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Avelynn: The Edge of Faith Kindle Edition
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Campbell's religiously ambivalent Avelynn treads a fine line between an iconic Dark Ages high-born damsel (think Guinevere in the more orthodox interpretations of the King Arthur legend) and Xena the Warrior Princess, who dismembers her foes with one flick of her wrist. Blessedly, the author does not lapse into any of those extremes or rely on staple cliches. Avelynn is someone who can handle weapon and deflect unwelcome sexual advances. At the same time, she does not engage in lengthy tirades about gender equality. Her integration into the world dominated by warriors of various heritages - Celtic, Saxon, Viking - is effortless. Her relationship with her Viking lover Alrick is charged with raw, nonchalant sensuality, free from inhibitions and prejudices. At the same time, they discuss matters of life and death as equals. After torrid love scenes, they discuss politics and alliances.
The novel explores the timeless subject of vindictive, vengeful ex-lovers. Marared, Avelynn's arch-rival for the affections of Alrick, is one of the most memorable female antagonists I have encountered in historical fiction. The infamous "psycho ex-girlfriend" is an eternal archetype. Physically and intellectually inferior to Avelynn, Marared relies on more traditional feminine tricks like fabricating pregnancy stories and threatening her rival with curses and spells. Despite her hatred for the protagonist, Marared is a sympathetic villain. She is a pawn in a much larger political scheme. Her rage is that of a discarded woman. Her heart is filled with fury, but at least she still has a heart - unlike her mother Sigy.
White magic is benign and useless, more of a placebo. Dark magic renders violent short-term effects but is sure to backfire. Ultimately, her heroine must rely on her own intellect and physical endurance as well as her ability to build alliances in order to triumph over her numerous ill-wishers. The author does not abuse the deus ex machina gimmick to advance the plot. Even though spirituality and magic play a major part in the novel, in the end, it is a combination of brain, muscle and iron that win.
My biggest gripe with book one was the small amount of page time given to Avelynn’s and Alrick’s relationship. They might've shared scenes for maybe less than a fourth of the book; not nearly enough to make me believe they were as in love as the book ending portrayed.
So this work was a vast improvement on that front. Their time in Dark Age Wales and their involvement with the politics thereof drew them together as a couple and as partners. They faced danger from many fronts as well as internally through their conflicting personalities and life goals. Yet, their relationship was as emotional and resonant in this work as book one's ending tried to portray. I felt the added time together and the new challenges they faced helped to strengthen their bond and made it more believable this time around. I definitely look forward to more in book 3 when they go to such a different world.
I still love are two leads just as much now as I did in the beginning. Avelynn still comes across as such a flawed heroine, always planning for the future but failing in the carrying out of those plans. She learns from her mistakes but often makes new ones, placing her in as much danger as book one. However, she faces everything with the same courage and spirit. Alrik is our manly Viking: brash, violent, hot tempered, and courageous. Yet, there is a side to him not often seen in fictional Viking men, an emotionally sensitive one. It's evident from the very start that he loves Avelynn with all his heart and respects her abilities and opinions. His emotionally heated ways were a nice foil to Avelynn, though with two such emotional people arguments and confrontations made themselves known.
The historical setting was as excellently portrayed in this second novel. Dark Age Wales seems to be a popular setting for me this year; I think this is the fourth book I've read set there. In my opinion, Campbell has done the best in her setting and bringing this brutal world to life. A rising Catholic Church, old vestiges of former paganism, and the feuding ways of rival kings all our vividly portrayed. Christian Welsh jockeyed for positions against pagan Vikings and old religion Welsh, creating a seething cauldron of politics and suspense. This aspect of the book added great spice to the characters and our main romance.
I'm itching with anticipation for book 3’s release. Where our heroes are headed next, I’ve only read one historical fiction from in this timeframe. I would love to see Avelynn in this setting, given how much the Viking culture respects and values her position as a priestess. Even though they don't worship her particular deity, they respect her position as a divine representative on earth. So bring on book 3!
Edge of Faith is a worthy follow up to its predecessor. The area that needed fixing was addressed; the excellence in all other aspects was continued. Our main leads are as strong and vibrant as before, and historical details bring the story to life. Anyone who does not fall in love with the main romance has no heart! LOL. See the final sentence of the previous paragraph for my final thoughts on book 3. :D
Most recent customer reviews
The Edge of Faith is a crispy written medieval action tale that draws you right into the fast-paced sequel to Avelynn 1.Read more