This is the fourth installment in Tanith Lee’s Tales of the Flat Earth. Last we left off in Delusion’s Master, Azhrarn, Prince of Demons, had fallen in love with a mortal and sired a child. This is the story of that child.
Tales of the Flat Earth is Lee’s masterstroke when it comes to fantasy writing. It’s a dark fairy tale that makes no attempt at being anything but purely adult. I have copies of the previous three books that plainly state “adult fantasy” on the cover, as if to say, “don’t say we didn’t warn you.” And going back to that “masterstroke” statement, its scope is enormous and the writing is perfectly beautiful. It’s purple, but it suits the world and these characters and the lustrous quality of everything shown.
From birth until Azhriaz’s ultimate fate, Lee covers it all. She is amazing at showing a character’s entire life, leaving out no detail, and yet condensing it so perfectly. It never drags. And it’s never rushed. But you’ve lived an entire life with Azhriaz, gone through all her changes (which include several name changes to denote her different stages), and it’s incredibly satisfying.
It’s hard for me to go into details without spoiling, because this is the fourth book in a series, but I will say it’s hard to get me hooked into a series. I tend toward standalone novels. Trilogies and series are hard to commit to for me. I ask a lot of a story that long. Namely that it be engaging throughout and have a world worth exploring. So admitting that I mostly avoid long series of books, that should be a testament to how wonderful these books are. I’ve been making my way through this series over the years, and I’m always so involved in the story and characters, every time. The same goes for this particular volume.
Lee is a highly overlooked author who deserves a great deal more attention, and this series is a fantastic place to start if you’re interested.