Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce

Do you remember when you first discovered The Chronicles of Narnia? I hope you do, because then you'll know how wonderful this series by Pierce is. Imagine discovering a series that let's you indulge in the wonder of childhood fantasy combined with more adult elements like love, honor and duty. That would be the amazing feat of The Darkangel Trilogy.

There are three books in the series: "The Darkangel", "A Gathering of Gargoyles", and "The Pearl of the Soul of the World". They tell the tale of Aeriel, a young girl who goes from being a homely slave girl to a young woman of beauty and immense courage. They also have all sorts of fantastical creatures in them, such as the Darkangel himself; Talb, one of the gnome-like beings that live underground; the Star-Horse, one of the lons that guard the lands of Aeriel's home world; Ravenna, one of the "Ancients" who created the world of Aeriel and her friends, etc.

This was really a very surprising find, as the different libraries I was able to obtain the books from had it listed from Juvenile Fiction to Young Adult. I would definitely put it in the YA category, although even that might be wrong, as some of the subject matter was very mature. Aeriel's growing love for the Darkangel as well as her increasing responsibilities to those around her are not child's-play. There's also a relationship with a young woman she meets, Erin, that may or may not have been romantic, depending on what you read between the lines. (Personally, I thought it might have been romantic, but only on Erin's end - another mature theme - unrequited love. Sigh).

There are great moments of joy in this series, as well as some truly heartbreaking sorrow. Not everyone is redeemed, nor does everyone get a happy ending. In fact, the last book leaves several things hanging enough that Ms. Pierce could always go back and revisit Aeriel. I was hoping she already had, but after searching high and low, it appears that this stands at just the trilogy right now, something I wasn't happy about at first. After giving it a few days, though, I think maybe this is for the best; it's hard to improve on perfection.

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