Fellow blogger Donna Hole was kind enough to give me this review in March 2011. Thank you, Donna.
Warning: this has spoilers
Eldala begins strongly with a prologue of the chase of King Arathor as he spirits his infant son Aiden away from danger, making the ultimate sacrifice to give up his beloved son and hide him in obscurity for to childs safety. The story is firmly grounded in fantasy by the use of a conjured wall of fire to make good the escape.
The story quickly introduces the main characters - Kieran (Aiden) and his cousin Gilrain - and exposes the overall plot for Kieran to accept his heritage as Crown Prince of Teleria, discover the location of his father King Arthor and pursuade him out of hiding, gather an army to defeat the Zorgoran Queen Ciara and end The Curse that blights all the lands, and reunite the races of Telaria and Baraca with a marriage to the Malazia.
To accomplish all the burdens his kingdom has placed on him, Kieran must first find the stolen Malazia Jessara, rescue her from slavery, and then convince her that the Eldalafar (a dance that binds the heart to the partner for all eternity) they shared was destiny, not a mistake achieved in childhood foolishness.
Mrs. Gregory builds a world rich in unique denizens - both human and monstrous - and doesn't stint on the use of magical spells, curative potions, respected Seers, and earth stones that connect the hearts and minds of its wearer over great distances.
The true strength of this novel is in the romance between Kieran (Telarian King Aiden) and Jessa (Jessara, Baracan Malazia). Two lovers torn apart in childhood by abduction and the animosity of their races; a sword fight to the death between rivals; a king more comfortable in the smithy than the council room; a rebel Malazia more suited as a warrior than spiritual leader. Rippling muscles, curvatious ladies, the angst of forbidden love. And all the sensual pleasures inherent in a passionate kiss; both forbidden and fulfilled.
Eldala had me frequently fanning my heart between breathtaking descriptive narrative and the heartwrenching scenes of two lovers torn apart by fuedal responsibilities, miscommunications, and cultural animosity.
Perhaps the essense of the novel can be summed up with the most memorable line for me:
"Courage is not the lack of fear," Kieran said, "but instead is the decision that something else is more important than your fear."