Wars of Light and Shadow

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The Wars of Light and Shadow is a series of fantasy books by Janny Wurts. When completed it will consist of five story arcs, with the first three arcs complete.

Background of the series[edit]

Working as a writer and a painter, Janny Wurts' work on her Wars of Light and Shadow is realizing her ambition of describing and illustrating a world born in her imagination. Her research included experiencing some of the work of her characters, adding a gritty realism to her novels. She included a magic system in which she strives for a continuity and logic that spans the entire series.

The idea for the Wars of Light and Shadow originated while researching tactics and weapons. A documentary film on the brutal Battle of Culloden Moor gave her the historical sense of the fighting stripped of any romantic patina. It also helped her realize that education, written history and entertainment serve to justify the actions of the winners and portray the losers as morally wrong and evil. The series attempts to portray the fictional conflict of Lysaer and Arithon in sympathetic terms, illustrating each side with equal pathos. The story tracks the martial, political and personal conflicts of the characters, and the different tactics used by each - a mass following in one case, and a solitary wandering in the other. Wurts narrates each character from their own perspectives, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions about the morality of individual actions[1].


Short Stories[edit]

  • Child of Prophecy

Deals with events that preceded the Rebellion. Meiglin lived under the shadow of a death sentence all her life, although she was townborn and kept ignorant of her ancestry. When the shocking fact of her birthright forces her onto the streets at fourteen years of age, she must flee with only the clothes on her back. Amid the tempestuous turmoil of the Mistwraith's incursion through South Gate, these are the lawless times, with clan survivors being hunted down for bounty. Alone, without kin, she has nowhere to turn, driven as she is by a blood-gifted heritage too overpowering to deny. Originally printed in Masters of Fantasy anthology, also available as digital book on the Author's website.

  • Reins of Destiny

Deals with events at the start of the Rebellion, the uprising that dethroned the High King of Havish. Originally printed in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, also available as digital book on the Author's website.

  • The Sundering Star

A back history prequel dealing with early events in this universe. Long before Mankind sought refugee settlement on the world of Athera, Koriathain served as a secret society, sworn to humanitarian intervention. A young woman bound between two clandestine identities faces a terrible choice, while caught in the teeth of a pivotal encounter that must alter her fate, and the course of history. Originally printed in Under Cover of Darkness anthology, also available as digital book on the Author's website.

Suggested reading order[edit]

The Wars of Light and Shadow series opens in Third Age 5637. So, Child of Prophecy and the other stories take place many years prior. Child of Prophecy shows the antecedent action that feeds into the political deadlocks that exist as Curse of the Mistwraith opens and is a suitable start for new readers of the Wars of Light and Shadow series, for entering that world with a deeper understanding of the divisions in society.
Reins of Destiny is better read anytime in Arc III "Alliance of Light".
The Sundering Star shows some of the combined threads of history from 'elsewhere' in the universe. So it reveals the off-Athera origins of some factions that are significant in the series, and it is best read before starting Arc IV "Sword of the Canon", as bits in Child of Prophecy and Sundering Star come into play as Arc IV opens up.

Characters and organizations[edit]

Old bloodlines[edit]

The chosen bloodlines of humans that ruled Athera in the early Third Age. Their rule was toppled by the rebellion incited by Davien the Betrayer in 5018. Their descendants hold out to this day as barbarians, living in forests where they are chased by the towns' headhunters.

  • s'Ahelas -- Family name for the royal line appointed by the Fellowship Sorcerers in Third Age Year One to rule the High Kingdom of Shand. The half-brothers Arithon s'Ffalenn and Lysaer s'Ilessid are borne by the same s'Ahelas mother. Gifted geas: farsight.
  • s'Brydion -- Ruling line of the Dukes of Alestron. The only old blood clansmen to maintain rule of a fortified city through the uprising that defeated the rule of the high kings. In the Ships of Merior book, they seem to have developed gunpowder, but the Fellowship intervenes to erase both their knowledge and memory of even having it, maintaining it would be too powerful a force. Bransian s'Brydion is the current Duke of Alestron, with Sevrand s'Brydion his heir designate.
  • s'Callient -- Lineage of the caithdeinen of Melhalla, Fellowship chosen to succeed s'Dieneval after the fall of Tirans.
  • s'Dieneval -- Lost lineage of the caithdeinen of Melhalla, the last to carry the title being Egan, who died at the side of his high king in the battle to subdue the Mistwraith. The bloodline carried strong talent for prophecy, and was decimated during the sack of Tirans in the uprising in Third Age Year 5018, with Egan's pregnant wife the sole survivor. Her daughter, Meiglin was mother of Dari s'Ahelas, crown heir of Shand.
  • s'Ellestrion -- Lineage of the High Kings of Melhalla, died out in the course of the uprising in Third Age Year 5018. Gifted geas: wisdom.
  • s'Ffalenn -- Family name for the royal line appointed by the Fellowship Sorcerers in Third Age Year One to rule the High Kingdom of Rathain. Arithon s'Ffalenn is the only surviving heir. Gifted geas: compassion/empathy.
  • s'Gannley -- Lineage of the Earls of the West, once the Camris princes, now bearing the heritage of caithdein of Tysan. Iamine s'Gannley was the woman founder. In Traitor's Knot, Sulfin Evend, son of the Mayor of Hanshire and Alliance Lord Commander under Lysaer s'Ilessid, is sworn to the land as caithdein of Tysan. He was heir to the title through Diarin s'Gannley, forced to marry into the Mayor's line after being abducted.
  • s'Ilessid -- Family name for the royal line appointed by the Fellowship Sorcerers in Third Age Year One to rule the High Kingdom of Tysan. Lysaer s'Ilessid and his son Kevor, begotten by Princess Ellaine, his second wife, are the only known remaining heirs. Gifted geas: justice.
  • s'Lornmein -- Family name for the royal line appointed by the Fellowship Sorcerers in Third Age Year One to rule the High Kingdom of Havish. The only Kingdom to currently be reinstated, under the rule of Eldir s'Lornmein, crowned at Ostermere in Third Age 5643 following the defeat of the Mistwraith. Gifted geas: temperance.
  • s'Taleyn -- Lineage of the caithdeinen of Shand.
  • s'Valerient -- Family name for the Earls of the North, regents and caithdein for the High Kings of Rathain.

Main characters[edit]

  • Arithon s'Ffalenn—The protagonist of the series, Arithon is private, reclusive and resists closeness from most people as a result of his gifted geas of empathy. Trained in magecraft, he is also the Masterbard of Athera, and the last scion of the s'Ffalenn bloodline. Due to a personality-twisting curse placed upon him by the Mistwraith, he is bound in enmity with his half-brother Lysaer that rouses him to homicidal rage whenever the two are within proximity of each other. He also possesses the gift of elemental shadow, allowing him to create darkness, extreme cold and shaped illusion on a scale limited only by will and imagination. Like Lysaer, Arithon's lifespan and youth were magically extended by five hundred years. After he discovered Davien the Betrayer was still alive Arithon went through many trials, and through interactions with the Paravians was freed of his half of the geas that binds him and his brother in enmity. This freedom does not extend to Lysaer who is still affected by Arithon's presence. the Koriani meddling creating a situation where he and Elaira would birth a talented child under their control was thwarted, but a child will be born to another woman without Arithon knowing such.
  • Lysaer s'Ilessid—The second protagonist of the series, Lysaer is Arithon's opposite - charming, warm and inspiring. His gifted geas is justice, forcing him to pursue his version of justice against all odds. It is this trait that the Mistwraith perverted through the curse placed on Lysaer and his half-brother. Lysaer commands the collection of towns and guilds across much of the continent through his charisma and leadership, and has formed a religion based on the opposition of darkness, personified in his brother Arithon. Lysaer's gift is of elemental light, allowing him to create intense heat and light on a similarly grand scale. Lysaer's life has been lengthened by five hundred years after drinking from Davien's Five Centuries Fountain.
  • Dakar the Mad Prophet—Initially in the series, Dakar was an inveterate drunk, who befriended Lysaer and was suspicious of Arithon. As the series progresses, he becomes aware of the curse that binds Lysaer and Arithon to enmity and comes to respect and work with Arithon to undo the curse and bring back the Paravians. Dakar has the gift of prophecy, in which he foretells a conditional future while in a trance. The trances are extremely unpleasant and Dakar's drunkenness at the start of the series was actually an effort to prevent himself from having to endure them. His most notable foretelling was the Black Rose prophecy.
  • Elaira—Elaira is a member of the Koriathain Order and is also Arithon's soulmate. The strictures of the Order mean that she and Arithon are unable to consummate their relationship, nor can she leave the Order unless released. Her relationship to Arithon is frequently used by the Koriathain to Arithon's detriment.
  • Jieret s'Valerient—Arithon's caithdein (seneschal), Jieret has known Arithon since childhood and has acted numerous times to save his life.
  • Lirenda—A member of the Koriathain Order, Lirenda hates Arithon and has designed numerous traps to snare him for use by the Order. Originally the second-in-command of the Koriathain and groomed for a leadership role, she has since fallen from grace and is trying to re-establish her position.
  • Morriel—The ruler of the Koriathain Order, Morriel is close to the end of an already unnaturally long life. Physically weak but capable of powerful magic, she acts in what she believes to be the best interests of the humans living on Athera, to the detriment of the planet itself. Deceased in a grand attempt to disrupt the planet's magnetic field, but currently possessing Selidie.
  • Fionn Areth Caid'An—The son of a shepherd, Fionn Areth was magically altered to resemble Arithon by Lirenda shortly after his birth. He was then used to draw Arithon into the open by falsely accusing him of being Arithon and threatening to have him killed in his place. He is of uncertain loyalty to Arithon, originally attempting to enroll in Lysaer's army that seeks to hunt and kill Arithon.
  • Sulfin Evend—Son of the Mayor of Hanshire who holds the post of Alliance Lord Commander under Lysaer s’Ilessid, he was born in Third Age Year 5633. Saved from death within a grimyard in Lysaer's presence, he is Lysaer's most dedicated follower and only friend. He is of outbred clan descent through Diarin s’Gannley, who was abducted and forced to marry his great grandsire. Bound to the land in Third Age 5670 when he swore a caithdein’s oath at Althain Tower.[1]
  • Kevor—Lysaer's mortal son through his second marriage to the daughter of the Mayor of Erdane. Kevor was believed killed by the dragon-like Khadrim, but in fact was rescued and healed by Ath's adepts, later joining the order himself.
  • Selidie—Selidie was a potential successor for Morriel's position at the head of the Koriathain Order. She has great magical potential, but is actually quite stupid. Selidie replaced Lirenda after a failed attempt to capture Arithon resulted in Lirenda's demotion. Upon Morriel's death, she was possessed by Morriel's spirit, granting Morriel newfound youth, lifespan and immunity to prosecution by the Fellowship of Seven.

The Mistwraith[edit]

The Mistwraith is a malicious entity of parasitic wraiths that gained entry to Athera through the southern Worldsend gate. Originally it was embodied in a world-shrouding fog that covered the entire planet. The combined elemental talents of Arithon and Lysaer stripped it of its mist-shell, after which it was trapped by Asandir. However during an earlier attack on the half-brothers it gained all of Arithon's magecraft training and with its ability to jump to another point in time was free to curse Arithon and Lysaer to undying hatred. After Arithon and Lysaer were cursed, Kharadmon was sent to search the worlds beyond the South Gate. This was done in order to understand how the Mistwraith was created. His mission failed since although he learned the Mistwraith was initially an experiment in a synergy between mind and machine, Kharadmon was unable to learn who the original test subjects were, their true names, and the ability to contain or release them. Furthermore the Mistwraith was still active and tried to devour his mind in the same way it had the inhabitants of the gate world Marak. As of Traitor's Knot, Athera is facing an influx of the wraiths drawn in by Morriel's meddling in the planet's magnetic field.

Fellowship of Seven[edit]

Sorcerers bound to Athera by the summoning dream of the dragons and charged to secure the mysteries that enable Paravian survival. Achieved their redemption from Cianor Sunlord, under the Law of the Major Balance in Second Age Year One. Originators and keepers of the covenant of the compact, made with the Paravian races, to allow Mankind's settlement on Athera in Third Age Year One. Their authority backs charter law, upheld by crown justice and clan oversight of the free wilds.

Their headquarters of sorts are in Althain Tower.

They are aided by the apprentice spellbinder to Asandir, Dakar the Mad Prophet; and the master spellbinder Verrain, trained by Luhaine.


  • Asandir—His secondary name is Kingmaker since his hand crowned every High King of Men to rule in the Age of Men (Third Age). After the Mistwraith's conquest, he acted as field agent for the Fellowship's doings across the continent. Also called the Fiend-quencher, for his reputation for quelling iyats; Storm-breaker and Change-bringer for his past actions when Men first arrived upon Athera.
  • Ciladis the Lost—He is the greatest healer among the Fellowship. He left the continent in Third Age 5462 in search of the Paravian races after their disappearance following the rebellion.
  • Davien the Betrayer—He was responsible for provoking the great uprising in Third Age Year 5018, that resulted in the fall of the high kings after Desh-thiere's conquest. Rendered discorporate by the Fellowship's judgement in Third Age 5129. Exiled since, by personal choice. Davien's works included the Five Centuries Fountain near Mearth on the splinter world of the Red Desert through West Gate; the shaft at Rockfell Peak, used by the Sorcerers to imprison harmful entities; the Stair on Rockfell Peak; and also, Kewar Tunnel in the Mathorn Mountains. In Traitor's Knot it was revealed that Davien had found a way to regain a physical body.
  • Kharadmon—He has been discorporate since the rise of Khadrim and Seardluin leveled Paravian stronghold at Ithamon in Second Age 3651. It was by Kharadmon's intervention that the survivors of the attack were sent to safety by means of transfer from the fifth lane power focus.
  • Luhaine—He has been discorporate since the fall of Telmandir in Third Age Year 5018. Luhaine's body was pulled down by the mob while he was in ward trance, covering the escape of the royal heir of Havish.
  • Sethvir—He has been The Warden of Althain Tower since Third Age 5100, when the last centaur guardian departed after the Mistwraith's conquest.
  • Traithe—He is solely responsible for the closing of South Gate to deny further entry to the Mistwraith. Traithe lost most of his faculties in the process and was left with a limp. Since it is not known whether he can make the transfer into discorporate existence with his powers impaired, he has retained his physical body.

Koriathain Order[edit]

The Koriathain order is an ancient sisterhood that predates Athera. It is a woman only order that binds members to the crystal matrices that they use to activate their talent.

All the Crystals of the order are stones that were brought to Athera by the order and as such are not protected under the Compact as all other Crystals of Athera are. Their crystals have not given consent to their bearers to use them, as such their crystals are often chaotic within and have vast trapped energies and in the case of the Great Waystone (which is the most powerful of their crystals) it carries the shades of all past Matriarchs.

The sisterhood is structured along religious lines. A Prime Matriarch who is assisted by a circle of seniors. The first senior is the prime's designated heir apparent. The entire sisterhood is under the Prime's direct sworn control. It is for this reason that Elaira, though the beloved of Arithon can be used against him, for she has not the ability to sever her ties with the order.

The sisterhood draws power from talented children foundlings. Elaira herself was a street child found by them. Male children are released from their service once they reach their majority and they leave, while the girls are bound to the order for life.

The order's goal within the Wars of Light and Shadow has always been to break the compact that prevents them from doing what they believe is their right, which is to meddle in the affairs of the world with their power. During the uprising the Great Waystone was lost. This was found to be in the keeping of Sethvir who communed with the stone. It touched every part of Athera with him and as a result cannot be used on anything outside the order's own sworn precincts.

The order sustains itself by providing acts of magic and healing, but these come with a price. Any action taken by the Koriani must be repaid in kind. It is with this that they were able to change the facial structure of Fionn Areth without violating the compact, for Elaira had saved his life when he was born. This gave him a life-debt to the Koriani.

Paravian races[edit]

  • Athlien Paravians—Sunchildren, akin to elves or pixies
  • Ilitharis Paravians—centaurs, though of enormous stature
  • Riathan Paravians—unicorns

Minor characters[edit]

  • Barach s'Valerient - current Earl of the North, son of Jieret, brother of Jeynsa.
  • Braggen—Companion (one of the 14 survivors of Tal Quorin), who accompanied Arithon on his flight to Davien's Kewar Tunnel in Peril's Gate
  • Caolle—former war captain of the clans of Deshir. Raised both Steiven s'Valerient and Jieret s'Valerient to fulfil the role of cathdein of Rathain.
  • Cerebeld—Lysaer's High Priest of the Light
  • Eldir s'Lornmein—High King of Havish. Raised as a wool dyer until restored to his kingdom by the fellowship in Third Age 5643.
  • Ellaine—Second wife of Lysaer, mother of Kevor. Daughter of the Mayor of Erdane.
  • Enithen Tuer—former Koriani. Resident of Erdane and ally of the Fellowship sorcerers.
  • Erlien s'Taleyn—cathdein of Shand
  • Feylind—daughter of Jinesse. Friend of Arithon since her childhood in Merior. Currently captain of the Evenstar.
  • Fiark—Feylind's twin. Son of Jinesse. Currently working as a trade factor in Innish, who passes information on to Arithon.
  • Jeynsa s'Valerient—cathdein of Rathain since Jieret's death.
  • Kyrialt s'Taleyn—son of Erlien.
  • Machiel—cathdein of Havish.
  • Maenelle s'Gannley—former cathdein of Tysan. Executed by Lysaer for passing stolen goods to Arithon. Grandmother to Maen current Cathdein of Tysan.
  • Steiven s'Valerient—former cathdein of Rathain. Father of Jeiret. Died in the Ettaran attack on Strakewood Forest.
  • Talith—First wife of Lysaer, sister of Diegan. Native of Etarra.
  • Verrain—spellbinder. Warden of Mirthlvain swamps. Trained by Luhaine.


The world of Athera timeline is divided up into Eras and Ages:

  • Era of Creation
  • Era of Destruction (also Ages of Dragons)
  • Era of Redemption is the third era where the stories occur and has (currently) three ages:
    • The First - marked by arrival of the Paravians
    • The Second, marked by the arrival of the Fellowship Sorcerers
    • The Third - marked by the arrival of Mankind - where the main story takes place
  • Era of Exaltation

The series opens in Third Age 5637. The satellite short stories to the main series take place many years prior.

Locations of note[edit]

  • Alestron—home of the s'Brydion family. One of the few cities not to fall in the uprising against the clans after the invasion of Desh-thiere.
  • Althain Tower—build in the second age by the Paravians, Althain tower houses many records and artifacts from Athera's history, and is the current home of Sethvir of the Fellowship.
  • Araethura—an expanse of grasslands within Rathain.
  • Athir—East coast ruin, site of Arithon's blood-oath to survive made with Asandir.
  • Avenor—Second age capital of Tysan, restored to habitation by Lysaer.
  • Caithwood—Tysan woodland.
  • Dier Kenton Vale—Approach to cliffs in Vastmark. Site of confrontation between Lysaer and Arithon which resulted in 30,000 deaths due to a landslide
  • Erdane—significant city in Tysan
  • Etarra—city in Rathain.
  • Halwythwood—woodland in Rathain.
  • Hanshire—notable port town in Tysan - formerly the centre of sea trade for Avenor - home town of Sulfin Evand.
  • Havish—neutral realm under the rule of King Eldir
  • Innish—southern port town of Shand.
  • Instrell Bay—body of water between Tysan and Rathain.
  • Ithamon—former capital of Rathain, site of the defeat of the Mistwraith.
  • Jaelot—formerly a second-age town, currently occupied by townsmen with a reputation for bad taste and bad manners.
  • Kewar Tunnel—Davien's construction beneath the Mathorn mountains.
  • Marak—The world beyond the South gate, which has been overrun by the Mistwraith.
  • Melhalla—another kingdom of Paravia
  • Merior by the sea—isolated fishing village on the Scimlade peninsula in Shand, and one-time refuge of Arithon.
  • Methisle—site of a keep where Verrain keeps watch on the Mirthlvain swamps
  • Mirthlvain Swamp—marshy region of Melhalla, renowned for breeding poisonous snakes.
  • Rathain—kingdom of Paravia
  • Riverton—port town in Tysan, site of Lysaer's ship building.
  • Rockfell Peak—large mountain where the Mistwraith is imprisoned under three rings of Fellowship wards.
  • Shand—one of the kingdoms of Paravia
  • Spire—a city in Havistock, Havish along the trade road between Redburn and Pellain. It is on the northern shore of Rockbay Harbor. A hostel of Ath's Brotherhood can be found in this city.
  • Tal Quorin—confluence of rivers where the first traps were set by the Deshirans to repel the invasion from Etarra under Lysaer.
  • Telmandir—former capital of Havish, now restored by King Eldir.
  • Tysan—kingdom of Paravia
  • Vastmark—isolated region of Shand, inhabited by shepherds, notorious for forbidding peaks and landslides.


  1. ^ Wurts, Janny (2008). Stormed Fortress. Harper Voyager. p. Glossary. 
  1. ^ Taken from Janny Wurt's biography in the back of 'Traitor's Knot'. Wurts, J. (2005). 'Traitor's Knot'. Meisha Merlin Publishing, Inc., Decatur, GA.

External links[edit]