Judith Tarr – The Lady Of Han-Gilen

In the second novel in the Avaryan Rising fantasy series, Judith Tarr departs from the traditional legend tale of the first novel, The Hall Of The Mountain King, to give a kind of retelling of the love triangle. In The Lady Of Han-Gilen (1987) the story is told from the female perspective instead of the male protagonist of the first novel. He is actually absent in the first part of the story, his name already growing in the known world. Tarr avoids telling the story of his rise and jumps to the next pivotal events in his life, this time told from a different point of view.

The female protagonist is certainly no damsel, but rather strong-minded, quite capable with plenty of daring. The first half of the novel plays out rather eventful and pleasant to the neutral reader. One might have expected the journey of the protagonist to take longer but Tarr makes it a fast one. The quest-like story transforms into a full-fledged romance in the second half in which the female protagonist battles desire and love and Tarr manages to make it quite convincing although the final result is what is to be expected.

Although I am male I do not dislike a well-told romance if it stays away from being too obvious, sweet or dramatic. Tarr walks a fine line during the deciding moments but her resilient heroine is not stupid and quite aware of the situation she gets herself into. No human is perfect and things can turn out differently than expected. In the first half Tarr sets the main protagonist up to develop a deep character who is far from witless so that the second half is experienced in the right state of mind although it may have given away the conclusion to easily. Of course the whole series already predefines how certain things will develop so the reader is here for the journey.

The Lady Of Han-Gilen is a quite pleasant story, well written with a fast developing plot that keeps an even pace. The main flaw to me was that it was too short. The heroine of the story is very likeable and should have been given more room to shine. Instead the plot is rather straightforward during the second half although the twist that leads to the end simply brings the story to a quick conclusion. However I did enjoy it overall and it certainly made me want to read more. Recommended.

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