The Crown of Stars is an epic fantasy series written by Kate Elliott. It consists of seven novels:
- King's Dragon - 1997
- Prince of Dogs - 1997
- The Burning Stone - 1998
- Child of Flame - 2000
- The Gathering Storm - 2003
- In the Ruins - 2005
- The Crown of Stars - 2006
King's Dragon was nominated for the Nebula Award.
This list is admittedly incomplete. However, it includes the predominant races, and all of the races used to tell the story.
Human - The vast majority of characters are humans. Most of the story takes place centered in the human kingdoms of Wendar, Varre, Aosta, and Arethousa. The Church of Unity holds strongly in Aosta, Wendar and Varre, while blasphemy pervades Arethousa. A warring, tribal folk known as the Quman threaten Wendar. Friendly with the Bwr, the Kerayit are a strange and mystic folk with strict rituals and powerful magics.
Aoi - The "Lost Ones," these elvish creatures have become legendary. Other than the occasional shade and the lone woman who birthed the king's bastard, no one in living memory has ever met one of these elegant, long-lived creatures. Many curse their name and use stories of the Aoi to frighten children.
Bwr - A race of centaur people described by the most prominent Bwr in the books, Li'at'dano, as "...not human, nor even half human...but another kind entirely, born out of the world before humankind walked here." Li'at'dano lives a very long time, as we see her span at least 1,000 years.
Eika - A savage people who organize themselves with a mentality not unlike that of dogs or wolves, the Eika regularly raid the human lands. The are growing extremely dangerous now, however, as a leader who is shrewdly intelligent has worked his way to the top and begins to organize the pack in a way never seen before.
Cast of Characters
Minor plot spoilers are included in the character descriptions. Care has been taken to protect the integrity of the story, while giving a rather thorough image of the characters. People who greatly dislike spoilers should avoid reading the following information.
Liathano - Liath spent many years of her life led by her father in a flight from unnamed assailants. During that time, Da (as she refers to her father) taught her to make a city of her memory and began filling its many doors with bits of powerful and often forbidden knowledge. Now all she has left of her father is the book that he always carried, a book that is sought by Presbyter Hugh. She seeks protection from the king by becoming one of the King's Eagles, sworn messengers, advisers, servants, of the king. When she learns that she is only half-human, and bred for a specific purpose, everything starts to make a horrific sort of sense.
Sanglant - Sanglant is the bastard son of King Henry of Wendar and Varre. His mother is Kansi-a-lari of the Aoi, sometimes known as Alia. Sanglant is seemingly unable to die, though whether his amazing ability to recover from nearly any injury is the doing of his mother's magic, or merely her blood, no one truly knows. He leads the King's Dragons, but soon begins to rebel against his father in a fight for love and honor.
Alain - Alain, son of Henri, leads a mysterious life. No one is quite sure of his heritage, though he calls a man named Henri "father." The Count Lavastine later legitimizes Alain, claiming him to be his bastard child and declaring him heir to Lavas. Alain has a connection to the black dogs of Lavas, and even to the Eika. In the end, Alain is likely the only person still alive who knows precisely what happened when the Lost Ones (the Aoi) disappeared--because he was there.
Fifth Son - One of the inhuman, dog-like Eika, who seeks to rise above his station as the least favored son of his father.
Wolfhere - A mysterious Eagle, Wolfhere is a traitor with more layers than the average onion...and he knows more than he will ever reveal.
Series in under a minute
Just to be clear, the bare bones of the plot are going to be revealed here. Individuals who do not want the story spoiled should stop reading immediately.
Liathano discovers that she is a half-fire elemental, half-human bred in response to the half-Aoi, half-human child Sanglant birthed by Kansi-a-Lari. Liathano was bred to help destroy the Aoi, while Sanglant was to aid the Aoi in taking revenge for the great spell weaved by the humans a thousand years ago.
The humans, lead by the Bwr known as Li'at'dano, cast a spell that tore the Aoi from the earth itself and sent them into another time and place, thus ending the countless years of oppression felt by the humans under the Aoi, once known as the Cursed Ones, but now known as the Losted Ones. The great working of magic used to send the Aoi away is wearing off, and the Aoi will be returned to the earth soon.
Seven humans intend to repeat the spell, to send them back, but Liathano realizes the horrible cost of such a casting and works to stop them...but in doing so, she might be subjecting all humankind to the power of the Aoi once again.
The author's husband, an archaelogist, as well as the author's general interest in history, have clearly played their part in this fascinating epic story.
Judeo-Christian mythology plays a heavy role in this story, with a number of the characters being involved in the Church of Unity (compare Roman Catholic Church), which is lead by the skopos (a female pope figure). The Biscops, Fraters, and Presbyters fall in the expected hiearchy, making the religion easily accessible to those rooted in Western culture. Further, the figure of the Holy Daisan is clearly modeled about Jesus with no apologies. The issue of blasphemy hits pretty hard about halfway into the series, with beliefs that the Holy Daisan was lifted bodily into Chamber of Light (heaven), and beliefs about whether the Holy Daisan died and was resurrected. As is perhaps expected, the church forbids sorcery, and yet are the people most often seen using it, it seems.
It's hard to say if it is a worthwhile task to try and find a message about the modern church within these subplots.
Another connection to our world comes in the form of the "crowns" or "looms" which are stone formations that feel Stonehenge-inspired and allow travel as well as at least a few other magics to be woven with starlight.
Readers of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire will likely be fans of this series, which was completed in early February of 2006.