I first read the Touchstone Trilogy by this author, and while I enjoyed it immensely, I have to say I liked the Medair Duology better. Probably because Touchstone was written in diary format (a literary device I normally HATE, but was sucked into the story despite this, a real testament to this author's quality). Medair, however, is written in third person and this, to me, flows more easily and makes for a better read.
Medair an Rynstar's story is a tragic one. With her Empire invaded by people from another world, she is desperate to save her home. To this end she goes on a quest that will forever change her life. Unbeknownst to her the magical weapon she seeks "lies outside of time" and when she returns she finds herself 500 years into the future. The War is over. Her Empire defeated. The White Snakes have taken over and assimilated into the native people and culture. Almost all of the population has at least some White Snake blood, to use the weapon now to defeat the White Snake menace would mean killing pretty much everyone. Unable to cope with this new world she finds herself in she retreats to a mountain hut to live out a solitary life. The book starts here, with Medair about to be ambushed by an unknown group of people that indirectly leads her into the dicey situation of being magically tied to a prominent White Snake leader, bound to aid him in returning to the Capital city against her will. This sets into motion a series of events that go from bad to worse to horrifically terrible, with Medair caught unwillingly in the middle. With thousands of lives at stake, Medair has to choose which side she wants to aid: those of the rebels -- the handful that remain untainted by White Snake blood -- or the White Snakes, the benevolent conquerors whose blood now taints the majority of the population of her country.
The whole story is composed of equal parts emotional angst, action, political intrigue, and tragic romance. We watch as Medair is forced to struggle with her natural hatred of the White Snakes, caught between old oaths and new truths, forced to make decisions the results of which she's not at all sure she can live with.
The story does flash back between past and present a couple of times, pretty much just in the first book so the reader can be caught up on what's going on, but I found that this fit the storyline. The only part that could be confusing was that, in the kindle format at least, the flashbacks were in the same font as the present, not italicized or separated by a paragraph space or anything to differentiate it and it took me a second to realize we'd switched from present to past and back again, but this is more a formatting error rather than a reflection of the author.
I found Medair's thoughts and feelings not only compelling, but realistic to the events and pressures she finds herself in. Medair is also refreshing in that she is not super-powerful and all-knowing and wise. She makes mistakes and is torn in her decision about how to fix those mistakes in a realistic manner. There is no magical quick-fix for everything.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
I loved this book! I had to re-read the last scenes several times, they were so heartbreaking and touching. I loved the emotional angst, hanging on with bated breath to see if Medair really would get her Happily Ever After. And she does, though not quite in the way she expected. I love the Illukar//Ieskar twist. I could tell from the flashbacks and little things Medair said that she was in love with Ieskar and it thrilled me that he came back into the story. I only wish that this wasn't the end, that Medair's story continues and we find out how her life works out with Illukar/Ieskar and how society will react to both her impending marriage and the role she's played in events so far, as well as how the Kier will deal with the rival heir to her throne. The conflicts would definitely be interesting and more than enough fuel for a future novel, IMHO. I hope we see more of Medair in the future! This author is definitely one of my new favs and I will look forward to her future work.