Rowena Cory Daniells – Sanctuary

The mystic Wyrds have been banished by King Charald, whose descent into madness grows ever steeper. Exiled and forced to set sail on the first day of winter, Imoshen’s people are packed onto seven crowded ships. Tensions flare under the pressure and the all-fathers and all-mothers are put to the test controlling their hardened warriors.

Ronnyn and his sister Aravelle have been separated, just as they feared, and look to an uncertain future. Sorne is betrayed and captured on the seas. Tobazim faces a confrontation with the bloodthirsty All-father Kyredeon and his notorious assassin, Graelen. And, while Imoshen has promised the T’Enatuath a home with the Sagoras, the enigmatic scholars have not yet replied to her plea for sanctuary. This is the thrilling climax to The Outcast Chronicles.

Due to the nature of this trilogy – it’s closer to one big book divided in three parts, LoTR-style, than to three books in a continuous storyline – spoilers are inevitable, and while I strive to keep large spoilers to a minimum in my reviews, talking about Sanctuary will spoil some things for Exile and Besieged. So if you don’t want to be spoiled at all, best close this review and start reading Besieged!

And so The Outcast Chronicles draws to a close with this final instalment, Sanctuary. And what a stunning finale it is. Unlike The Usurper, the third book in the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy, Sanctuary was a very satisfying ending to the story told in The Outcast Chronicles. After being introduced to the T’Enatuath and the true-men  in Besieged, following the preparations to leave in Exile, in Sanctuary we follow Imoshen and her people on their journey from Chalcedonia to Ivernia, the land of the Sagoras. As expected, this journey isn’t without its difficulties, both due to in-fighting between the T’En and attacks on the fleet by pirates. In addition, we also see the resolution to the rebellion in Chalcedonia, where Sorne must help Jaraille protect her son’s future throne. Covering an even shorter period than Exile before it, Sanctuary doesn’t have any dull moments as civil war is fought, all-fathers and mothers unseated and replaced and finally sanctuary is reached, or is it?

In reality, this book contains two stories, that of Queen Jaraille and the rebellion and that of the T’En. While they overlap in some instances, mostly in Sorne making sure that his Mieren kin are relatively safe, they are pretty much separate beyond that. I liked this resolution to the Mieren story. It showed Jaraille dealing with the rebellion and Sorne leaving her in a relatively safe position to rule as regent, but in no way, shape, or form can we be sure that she’ll remain in that position; the rebellion has been put down, but the war has been won, so to speak. We just don’t get to see the rest of it, because Sorne is forced to leave due to winter arriving and having to leave or be killed. It leaves the reader with a sense of continuity—the narrative may have moved on, but the story continues. Jaraille has shown tremendous growth throughout the series and with Sanctuary has come into her own and there is a sense that only the tip of the iceberg has been uncovered on what she might achieve. Sorne leaves Chalcedonia under threat of death and is betrayed while travelling to join the T’En in exile. This betrayal does give him the chance to gain more stature as he fights to reach Ivernia and proves his worth to the T’En who only see his Malaunje blood.

The T’En side of the book is fantastic. It’s no secret that the T’En culture and society are my favourite things about the trilogy and I loved looking in on different brother- and sisterhoods. The reader is shown the difference the all-father or mother’s personality can have not just on life in their brother- or sisterhoods, but also for the T’En as a whole. Again there is lots of politicking and this time we see that it’s not just the T’En, but their Malaunje as well. Through Aravelle we get a glance of what Malaunje life with the T’En is like and it isn’t always pretty. Thus far we’ve only seen beloved devotees interacting with the T’En, but normal Malaunje are far from such an existence. Aravelle is a lovely character; she truly has to grow up in Sanctuary and make some heartbreaking choices. She’s determined and tenacious and she doesn’t let the life she’s found herself thrown into break her spirit.

The struggle for the all-fatherhood in Kyredeon’s brotherhood was incredible; the climax to this story arc left me completely breathless. Daniells manages to ramp up the tension to a Himalayan peak, before letting it subside to ready itself for another peak in the final chapters of the book. I found myself glued to the book until the final conclusion of this epic struggle. Daniells not only creates a Brotherhood triumvirate to be proud of, but also leaves the door open for some amazing interplay between Imoshen, Ardonyx and Tobazim. Everybody has secrets, but none more so than these three and their dance to keep these secrets from each other so as not lose each other’s trust was intricate and fascinating. With the T’En in such close quarters, we also learn even more about the gifts – how they work, what they can achieve, and what forms they take – which was very cool.

While Sanctuary wraps up the story of this trilogy completely, there are hints that the story isn’t done. I look forward to discovering whether there will be more, which I sincerely hope, as I’ve really fallen in love with the T’Enatuath and I’d love to be able to revisit them. Sanctuary is a fabulous round off to a great series, which has firmly planted Rowena Cory Daniells on my must-read list of authors. Of the two series by her which I’ve read so far, this is my favourite. It has politics, intrigue, heroics and love in all its guises splashed on its pages in a lovely smooth authorial voice. If you’re looking for an engaging, rich world to lose yourself in, picking up The Outcast Chronicles is the way to go. Sanctuary will be published by Solaris on August 28 in the US and Canada and in the UK on September 13. Don’t miss it!

This book was provided for review by the publisher.