Shadows on the Stars

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Shadows on the Stars
Cover art for Shadows on the Stars
Author T. A. Barron
Illustrator David Elliot
Cover artist David Elliot
Country United States
Language English
Series The Great Tree of Avalon
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Philomel Books
Publication date
6 October 2005
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 430 pp(hardcover edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-399-23764-X
OCLC 58832613
LC Class PZ7.B27567 Sha 2005
Preceded by Child of the Dark Prophecy
Followed by The Eternal Flame

Shadows on the Stars is the second book in The Great Tree of Avalon series by T. A. Barron. Child of the Dark Prophecy was the first book, and The Eternal Flame the last. Shadows was published in October 2005.

Plot summary[edit]

In the previous book, "Child of the Dark Prophecy", the evil sorcerer Kulwych made a pure crystal of élano out of the water from the White Geyser of Crystillia. Élano is the most powerful substance in Avalon, and is known for its power to create life. At the beginning of "Shadows on the Stars", the wicked spirit Rhita Gawr corrupted this pure crystal of élano and thereby transformed into an anti-matter-like version of itself, called vengélano, which destroys whatever it touches.

Facing this danger, the three young heroes of this story, Tamwyn, Elli, and Scree, must push their abilities to its utmost limit in order to save Avalon. Tamwyn must somehow find his way to and relight the darkened stars of the constellation Wizard's Staff. Elli must seek the crystal of vengélano and destroy it. Scree must confront his greatest mistake, that nearly cost him his life and the staff of Merlin, to help defeat Rhita Gawr's army.

Tamwyn, accompanied by Henni the hoolah and the small, winged creature called Batty Lad, leaves Avalon's root-realms – the seven familiar sections of Avalon, home to the greatest diversity of life-forms – and enters the trunk. There, he is separated from his friends. He discovers, among other things, growth rings of the Tree that tell of its entire history; places where giant termites dwell; and the people called Ayanowyn, whose once glorious society has become a dystopia. When living with the Ayanowyn, Tamwyn learns that if a Golden Wreath – a wreath of mistletoe, sacred to the Ayanowyn – were to appear among them, the one to whom it appeared would become their leader. While leaving the Ayanowyn to continue his travels, Tamwyn finds such a Wreath and leaves it with the one who has been his host, so that this one, who desires a return of his people's glory, becomes leader.

Because, as a rule, humans think of trees as being wooden, the description of Avalon's trunk as being essentially made of stone and consisting of such topography as exists in our real world creates some ambiguity. In Avalon's tree-world, a knothole becomes a valley, and the outside of the trunk becomes similar to a cliff, or to Amara, though Avalon's surface is less steep than Amara's.

In or near Merlin's Knothole, Tamwyn meets the sole survivor of his father Krystallus' expedition to the stars; Ethaun, a blacksmith who has made the Knothole/valley his home since the death of his leader. This man shelters Tamwyn; reforges Tamwyn's broken dagger; brings him to visit Krystallus' grave; and gives Tamwyn a globular compass by which to navigate the trunk and branches. Tamwyn eventually discovers that the stars that illuminate Avalon, occupying the niche held by the Sun in our world as well as the niche held by the stars of our night sky, are in fact "doors of fire" that lead, when opened, to other worlds including ours and the spirits' Otherworld. To rekindle the constellation Wizard's Staff, therefore, Tamwyn must shut the doors of which it is made.

Elli, accompanied by Nuic, Shim, Brionna, and a priest of the order to which Elli belongs, called Lleu, attempt to seek the aid of the water dragons. This aid is slow in coming; therefore the questors leave the dragons' home. They travel via the portals that link the seven root-realms; mistakenly to the realm Malóch, where they learn that Elli's former tormentor Llynia is part of a eugenic, genocidal effort to impose human rule on all nonhuman life-forms. Escaping from Llyina's clutches with the help of a gnome whose life Elli had saved in the previous book, they continue with greater urgency to fulfill their purposes.

In a dream created by Tamwyn's magic, he and Elli meet on a cloud. There he gives her a half-finished harp in replacement of the one he broke. In exchange they share a kiss.

Scree has returned to Rahnawyn, the realm of his birth. There, he learns that the clan of eaglefolk called Bram Kaie is destroying other eaglefolk. Having experienced their cruelty firsthand, Scree attempts to attack the renegade clan alone. He has met their leader before; this leader, Quenakhya by name, had seduced Scree in order to seize the magic staff Ohnyalei. When he understood this, Scree had fled. On returning, he watches as Quenakhya's own son challenges and kills her in order to gain the leadership. Scree, immediately after, challenges this new leader and kills him. On her last breaths, the dying Quenakhya (Who supposedly tricked and seduced Scree in his younger years and having sex with him. The product of their sex is an eagleman of two tribes named Maulkee.Then near Qenakhya's death she asks Scree if he really loved her.)reveals that Scree is the father of the warrior whom he has slain. Ashamed of himself, but cognisant of necessity, Scree takes the leadership of Bram Kaie.

Characters in "Shadows on the Stars"[edit]

  • Tamwyn: A young man who has for the majority of his lifetime lived in the realm of Rahnawyn with an adopted brother, Scree. He has suspicions that he might be the Dark Child, as he is 17 years old and seems to think there is a hidden darkness in him. His name means Dark Flame in the language of the flamelons, his mother's people. His father is Krystallus, Merlin's explorer son. Although they have never met, Tamwyn seeks to follow in his father's footsteps by traveling to the stars, even before learning of his father's identity. Has feelings for Elliryana.
  • Elliriyanna Lailoken/Elli: A young trainee at the Society of the Whole. Her parents were killed in gnome raids; she was herself kept in slavery for the majority of her life, clinging to the only remnant of her parents: a harp made by her father that was accidentally destroyed by Tamwyn the first day they met. After escaping shortly before the events of the first book took place, shemorhabn dpad goes to the Drumadian compound to become a priestess, hoping to follow in her father's footsteps. Her memories continue to haunt her. Has feelings for Tamywn.
  • Nuic: Elli's faithful maryth; one of the diverse creatures voluntarily bound in partnership to Drumadian priests and priestesses. He is an old creature, often referring to ancient events at which he was present. He is a small pinnacle sprite; a rotund mountain-dweller whose color changes according to his thoughts and emotions. He is often sarcastic and impatient, though he is wise and witty. Nuic is said to have been the maryth to Rhia, daughter of the Drumadian founder.
  • Kulwych: An evil sorcerer who desires to gain totalitarian control of Avalon. He especially hates Merlin and wishes to rid Avalon of that wizard's image. He is shown to be a servant of Rhita Gawr. Kulwych is known as White Hands, due to the fact that he hides his battle-scarred body beneath a cloak, allowing only his perfectly white hands to show. His plan involves the creation of a dam by which to capture the water of Geyser Crystillia, wherein is eláno enough to make a crystal. He plans then to corrupt the crystal, making it a thing of destruction rather than creation. Having done so, he is reduced to Rhita Gawr's second-in-command.
  • Brionna: A young elf from El Urien who is captured by White Hands' arms master, Harlech. She is forced to work on Kulwych's dam. Later, Kulwych blackmails her into stealing the staff Ohnyalei from Scree, who has been its keeper, by threatening the life of her grandfather Tressimir. Brionna obeys, fearing to lose her grandfather. She meets and befriends Shim, a giant who has become dwarf-sized under the influence of a curse. Brionna, having stolen Ohnyalei, is betrayed by Kulwych. She later abets the destruction of his dam. Brionna accompanies Elli on the quest to destroy the crystal of vengeláno. It is implied that she has feelings for Scree.
  • Scree: An eagleman who is Tamwyn's half-brother. Becomes leader of the eagle clan. Has feelings for Brionna.

The supporting characters[edit]

  • Shim: A giant who has been reduced to the size of a dwarf, not once but twice, having grown to giant-size in between. He is as old as Avalon itself. Shim is a friend of Merlin's, encountered first in The Lost Years of Merlin. In Child of the Dark Prophecy, he befriends Brionna. Shim always speaks with a particular mannerism, distinguished by his haphazard use of suffices and his use of synonymous adjectives such as "certainly, definitely, absolutely" in trios. He calls Brionna his "niece".
  • Henni: Henni is a hoolah; a mischievous, reckless, comical person who sees life as a game. He enjoys seeing people become frustrated or hot-tempered, because they are then excited and therefore appear absurd to him. He fulfills this liking by joining the travelling group consisting of Elli, Nuic, Llynia, Llynia's maryth Fairlyn, and Tamwyn, whom he teases relentlessly. Henni, for his part, becomes more sober as a result of his experiences of violence and danger. Although Tamwyn presumes him dead after their involuntary separation en route to the stars, it is implied at the end of the book that he is still alive.
  • Llynia: A priestess of the Society of the Whole. Llynia is excessively arrogant, egocentric, and anthropocentric. She torments Elli constantly and abuses all whom she meets, except the gardener Hanwan Bellamir, who is as anthropocentric as she despite his gentler demeanor. Later, she joins the anthropocentric movement "Humanity First", which seeks to impose human rule on all nonhuman life.
  • Batty Lad: A small, green-eyed, batlike creature who joins Tamwyn. Batty Lad is happy-go-lucky, cheerful, and talkative. He speaks very quickly, with a tendency toward colorful language. His origins are implied to be of great significance. Although Tamwyn presumes him dead after their involuntary separation en route to the stars, it is implied at the end of the book that he is still alive.
  • Rhiannon: T. A. Barron's re-invention of the Lady of the Lake. Rhia, as she is sometimes called, is vital, optimistic, friendly, humorous, courteous, compassionate, wise, and skilled in magical arts. She is very much in touch with nature, though at times she surrenders to her frustrations. She is Merlin's sister and Tamwyn's great-aunt.
  • Krystallus Eopia: Though he did not actually take action in the book, Krystallus was often mentioned. Son of the wizard Merlin and deer-woman Hallia, Krystallus was a great explorer who died on his greatest expedition, the journey to the stars; he never made is to the stars, and it is said that he mostly died of grief for the wife and child he thought he lost. The Lady of the Lake revealed to Tamwyn that Krystallus was his father in book one.
  • Deth Macoll: An assassin and master of disguise. Poses as a jester to infiltrate Elli's party. Later reveals himself, only to fall to his death.
  • Olewyn: Though not named until Shadows on the Stars, he is quite prominent in both books. Appearing several times, he is a mysterious bard whose knowledge of the status quo far exceeds that which he chooses to reveal. He is notable for his broad, white beard; for his skills of music and poetry; and for the creature called a museo, which dwells in his hat. This creature possesses the most musical voice of all voices in Avalon.

The Seven Root Realms[edit]

The Great Tree of Avalon splits into seven roots (realms):

  • Airroot (Y Swylarna)
  • Mudroot (Maloch)
  • Stoneroot (Olanabram)
  • Waterroot (Brynchilla)
  • Fireroot (Rahnawyn)
  • Shadowroot (Lastrael)
  • Woodroot (El Urien)

Each is named for the primary component of its environments.

Other Books Written By T.A. Barron[edit]

Great Tree of Avalon Series
Child of the Dark Prophecy
Shadows on the Stars
The Eternal Flame

External links[edit]