Valley of the Soul
by Tamara Siler Jones
Review by Gayle Surrette
Spectra Mass Market ISBN/ITEM#: 0553587110
Date: 31 October, 2006 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Valley of the Soul is the third book of the Dubric Byerly series. One of the interesting things is how the characters have developed and grown based on the events in the past two books. The events of the last book, Threads of Malice have taken their toll. Dien and Sarea Saworth lost a daughter. Lars feels guilt for not saving their daughter and while he's courting Jesscea Saworth, he freezes up when close to her because of all the evil he's seen. Maeve and Dubric are starting their life as a couple but she isn't sure she wants to marry yet. And Otlee is dealing with the trauma of his torture and captivity. Time may heal all wounds but it also takes a lot of effort and maybe more time than they have.
Once you start reading there's no good place to stop, so my advice is to plan a marathon reading session. The pace quickens as more threads of seemingly unrelated stories are twined about and the characters stories dance in and around each other. We learn much more about the life of Oriana, Dubric's first wife, as Jesscea reads through her diaries which also fill us in on some of the events of the mage wars.
As you read you realize that several of the characters have information vital to others but they don't realize it and it's not that they won't share, it's more that they don't even know it's relevant. Then there's the information that is shared and ignored. Many authors use misdirection and misunderstandings to move the plot along, but that's not the case here. You never have the feeling that the author is directing from off-stage. The story opens and the characters act naturally as they are set up to live their lives, and you follow along sometimes seeing the pitfalls and sometimes not but knowing that anything can happen because sometimes there are no happy endings.
One caveat -- these stories are dark. The people and their stories are worth reading but be warned that this author doesn't pull her punches.