A Time of War (Days of Blood and Fire in the US) is the third book in the secondDeverry quartet. Here all the action takes place in the present — we meet the Rhiddaer folk and the Gel Da’Thae (in the form of Jahdo and Meer) who quest to Deverry in search of Meer’s brother. When they find him, they discover he is part of a major plot dreamt up by Alshandra in order to regain her daughter. At the same time Jill charges Rhodry to find the only weapon that will help the Deverrians in their war against the Horsekin and Alshandra’s evil followers.
I was disappointed in A Time of War — I feel as though Kerr has lost her way a little. One of the high points of her first quartet is the fact that the storyline flits back and forth in time, deepening your affection for various characters in the different lives they have lived. Here, when she moves to a more linear storyline, I find myself less entranced.
Part of the problem is that I’m finding it hard now to care about any of the characters. In a previous review, I noted that Jill is far less likeable as a dweomermaster than as a silver dagger. The last character that I held deep regard for was Rhodry and in A Time of War he seemed to descend into a unique kind of madness. He speaks often of courting his Lady Death and Kerr overuses the beserker howl of laughter that had, up to now, been used effectively to build Rhodry’s character.
I already didn’t care for either Evandar or Dallandra, and here they crop up time and again in a very tedious storyline about Dallandra being kidnapped by Evandar’s brother. All the time spent in Evandar’s dreamlike homeland is slow and plodding and doesn’t seem to advance the plot at all.
I would also like to complain that there were a number of scenes where Jill did etheric scrying, or changed into her falcon, which seemed lifted in their entirety from earlier books. There are only so many times I can read that without becoming bored.
I did like a number of aspects of A Time of War. These included the touching scenes between Jill and Rhodry as they reached out in friendship and found a sort of reconciliation. Also, Kerr is extremely able at drawing distinctions between each of the different locations — in previous books Bardek has been richly imagined; here we delve more into the homeland of the dwarves, which is given a very different feel. Her world-building is on a more cosy scale than, say, the GRRM’s of the world, but very effective nonetheless.
Despite the fact that the idea of a dragon is brought into the story in an abrupt manner (barring one brief paragraph two books ago), the introduction of Arzosah adds at least half a star to my rating. If you are as fond of decently-written dragon characters as I am, you will love Arzosah, who is both beautiful and slyly clever. The dialogue between her and Rhodry lends real vigour to the last part of A Time of War.
This is a real lapse in form compared to the previous books, but I have high hopes of the last book in this quartet — a number of plot points should be resolved satisfactorily.
Deverry — (1986-2009) Publisher: Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d rightened that wrong — and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness… and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly revised edition comes the incredible novel that began one of the best-loved fantasy seers in recent years — a tale of bold adventure and timeless love, perilous battle and pure magic.
Act one: Deverry — In the UK, the third book is Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood, and the fourth book is Dragonspell: The Southern Sea.
Act two: The Westlands — in the UK, the third book is A Time of War and the fourth book is A Time of Justice.
Act three: The Dragon Mage
Act four: The Silver Wyrm — in the UK, these are continuations of Act Three: The Dragon Mage.