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3.0 out of 5 stars
Games End
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 July 2006
This is the last volume in a group of five books. Sharon Green initially started with the intention of writing two individual novels, but the tale grew in the writing into an unusual double trilogy.

Green herself described it in the afterword to the final book as an "odd series" organised into "two crossed trilogies in the form of an X."

This book is part of a trilogy which tells the story of the sorceress Chalaine and the sorcerer-prince Bariden. That trilogy starts with "The Hidden Realms", shares the middle book "Dark Mirror, Dark Dreams" with the other trilogy, and is concluded in this final book of the quintet, the appropriately named "Game's End.

However, "Silver Princess, Golden Knight," kicks off a second trilogy within the same broader canvass, telling the story of Princess Alexia and the mercenary captain Tiran d'Iste, both of whom are shapeshifters. Their adventure, which includes both a romance and a quest for a kingdom, continues as the two stories come together in "Dark Mirror, Dark Dreams", which is the middle book of both trilogies. The story of Alexia and Tiran is sort-of concluded in "Wind Whispers, Shadow Shouts". The double titles denote this second trilogy.

The reason I say "sort-of-concluded" is that you are told at the very end of "Wind Whispers, Shadow Shouts" that the result of Alexia and Tiran's story might be completely overturned if the final battle fought by Chalaine and Bariden goes the other way - so you have to read "Game's End" to see whether it does.

The linkages between the two stories are clearest in the middle book, where all four characters work together, and at the conclusion of "Dark Mirror, Dark Dreams" each of the two couples become the rightful King and Queen of their own Kingdom. In the final two books, each couple has to defend their newly-gained realm and people against attack by powerful evil from beyond the worlds.

If you are going to read this series, it helps to read each trilogy in order and to read "Game's End" last. Hence the sequence is

1) and 2) "The Hidden Realms" & "Silver Princess, Golden Knight"

(Either can be read first)

3) "Dark Mirror, Dark Dreams"

4) "Wind Whispers, Shadow Shouts"

5) "Game's End"

This quintet of fantasy novels, written between 1993 and 1996, is rather more mainstream than some of the author's earlier works. Sharon Green has put a lot of effort into creating the personalities and magic powers of the heroes and heroines, and some of the other major characters. The plots - in both senses of the word - are also quite intricate.

Rather less effort appears to have been put into creating the worlds where the stories take place, the minor characters or most of the villains, who tend to be fairly two-dimensional and thinly sketched out - to such an extent that many of the places in the stories and many of the characters do not even have names. In places there is good use of humour but there could be rather more.

Overall as fantasy novels go this is average, by which I do not mean to damn the book with faint praise. It's not the best fantasy story you will ever come accross, but it's not the worst either.

The main thing going for this series is that it is such an unusual way to build a story as to make it interesting to see how Sharon Green put it together.
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