Divine Touched (Vaelandrian Goddesses # 1)

Divine Touched (Vaelandrian Goddesses # 1) - Cassandra Duffy I had previously given up on two highly-rated lesfic fantasy books after just a few chapters in so I'm a bit wary of this genre. In both cases, there were too many characters for me to keep track of and too little going on to hold my interest. Fortunately, this isn't the third one. The author wisely focuses the story and action on the two main characters first. Once we're hooked, she slowly widens the circle until, by the end of the book, you get the usual smorgasbord of characters that is typical of epic-length fantasy.

The cast of characters is amazingly drawn: Forthright and true Harper, wily Calista, catty Brandine, snarky Ezra, roughly hewn Athol and Sven, stinky sweet Ogre, etc, even all the bit characters have their place and moment in the tale. There is a lot of humor--some dark, some droll, and some downright funny, but isn't forced or overdone. All the usual elements we normally expect from fantasy are there--spells, prophecies, great battles and of course, dragons. The author eschews the usual quest and good-vs-evil plot in favor of a unique and very unpredictable storyline, where the objective is unclear, where most characters' motives are suspect, and you just never know who's gonna end up getting offed next.

Romance readers will love the development of Harper's and Calista's relationship. Calista's seduction of the virginal Harper is deliciously sexy. But how they get from lust to trust, with all the lies, secrets and a tenacious rival between them--is what makes for a great, lesfic-quality love story.

There is a lot of moral ambiguity if you go by our modern day standards. Calista is an assasin, a thief, a spin artist and big-time trouble-magnet. The tempest she stirs up and the resulting dust-up can rival any of the major LOTR sieges in terms of body count. But no epic fantasy worth its salt will be complete without this epic final battle. In the book, it stretches over the final third of the book, in all its bloody and gory detail. Fantasy fans will love it. Personally, I found it rather exhausting.

I was planning to give this a 4.4 which is 4 stars but I loved the ending so much, I'm gonna bump this up a bit. I'd love to be the fly on the wall when she finds out her reward wasn't the untold riches she was expecting but to be 'penniless and pregnant' with the Goddess child, LOL

Again, thanks to all the GR peeps who took time to review the book and helped me discover this wonderful world. Now on to Book 2.

4.5 stars