on 3 August 2005
To Light A Candle is the 2nd book in the Obsidian Trilogy and continues the adventures of Kellen and his friends in their quest to prevent the "Endarkened" - a race of immortal demons who gain their strength and powers throgh torture and pain - from conquering the world of Light. As with most trilogies, the first book, "The Outstretched Shadow" should be read first to understand the twists and turns of the story and to firmly immerse oneself in the world that Lackey & Mallory have created. The main players are Kellen, the first "Knight-Mage" in a millenia, his sister Idalia, a powerful wild-mage, Jermayan, an Elven-Knight who bonds to a Dragon (a race thought long extinct), and Shalkan, a unicorn, and one of the most entertaining and witty of the characters. The events of the book carry on directly after the 1st installment, with Kellen's return to Sentarshardeen after destroying the Endarkened enchantment that had caused a drought which threatened the survival of the Elven race. This is only the opening skirmish in a war of attrition that will undoudtedly climax in the third book. The main action of the novel centres around fighting the scourge of the "Shadowed Elves" - Elf-Goblin hybrids created by the Endarkened, who live a troglodyte existence and serve the Endarkened demons who have set themselves up as their gods. Kellen agonises that fighting the Shadowed Elves is only a distraction from what the enemy may be planning next, but knows that if the Elven armies do not unite to exterminate them , then they will be used against them. The Elves meanwhile feel guilty and disheartened at having to fight and kill those that they see as cousins (albeit those that would kill them without a second thought) - all grist to the Endarkened mill that thrives on despair.
There is also a secondary plot-line set in the "golden" city of human mages - a conservative, inward-looking city that is being infiltrated by an agent of the Dark. It's not so fun to read these sections, but necessary for the plot to progress and for all the threads to be neatly tied together in the nest book.
In summary-great characters, tight plotting, lovely imagery and fluid writing. I'm not sure how Ms Lackey & Mr Mallory split their writing, but the only niggle I have is that the style does seem to change from the "city scenes" to those involving Kellen and his friends out in the big, bad world. This is a very minor niggle though, in a big book that I swallowed whole and will now go back and read again to catch all the nuances tha I missed the first time.