ARROWS OF THE SUN, Judith Tarr: holy crap.
I began suspecting that this was the second series somewhere early in the book, and I was right, so now I know the bones of the first series, because it was too good to stop reading and besides, I was on an airplane and couldn’t get the first book then anyway. (You, being forewarned, should start here instead of where I started.)
It as also somewhere well before the magnificently ruinous romance really began to unfold that I started to see where it was going to go, and started to suspect that it was going to put my all-time favorite tragic love story, TIGANA, to shame.
It did. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still love me some TIGANA, but ARROWS OF THE SUN’s heartbreaking romance is actually *more* complex and layered than TIGANA’s, and the heart of it is…fiery in a way that Dianora and Brandin aren’t. In fact, given the context of the story, rather literally fiery, but also figuratively: it actually burns hotter and more desperately, and it’s honestly just *magnificent*.
Besides the amazing romance, it’s also terrific epic fantasy. The TIGANA comparisons end with the romance, because the scope of ARROWS feels much grander and greater than TIGANA’s, although it also remains an intensely personal story. But empires rise and fall on these peoples’ decisions, and magic lives or dies in theirr actinos.
Also for the win, for those keeping track at home, ARROWS OF THE SUN is almost entirely populated by people of color, to the point that it actually seems ridiculous to phrase it that way. It’s more like, there’s one white girl and she’s extremely noticeable because of that.
Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed that I’ve come so late to Judy’s writing, but at the same time, I’m really glad because I’m able to appreciate it on a whole different level than I would have 20 years ago. And because we live in a brave new world of publishing, everybody *else* who might not know her work can find it now, and if you like epic fantasy, you rrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaallllllly oughta be giving her a try. :)