Book 3 of the Circle TrilogyBook Two of the Circle Trilogy:

Morrigan's Cross

Dance of the Gods

Black Rose
Blue Smoke
Born In Fire
Born In Ice
Born In Shame
Captive Star
Carolina Moon
Chesapeake Blue
Considering Kate
Cordina's Crown Jewel
Dance Upon the Air
Daring To Dream
Face the Fire
Finding the Dream
From The Heart
Heart of the Sea
Hidden Star
Holding the Dream
Inner Harbor
Irish Rebel
Jewels of the Sun
Key of Knowledge
Key of Light
Key of Valor
The MacGregor Brides
The MacGregor Grooms
The MacGregors Alan~Grant
Megan's Mate
Midnight Bayou
Montana Sky
Northern Lights
Once Upon a Castle
The Perfect Neighbor
The Reef
Remember When
Rising Tides
River's End
Secret Star
Tears of the Moon
Three Fates
True Betrayals
The Villa
Waiting for Nick
The Winning Hand

Valley of Silence
by Nora Roberts
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-14167-4
Nora Robertsí Circle Trilogy comes to a triumphant conclusion with Valley of Silence.† Iíve read mixed reviews of this series, but I consider it to be some of her strongest work in years.† Without sacrificing the elements that make her such a strong romance novelist, she has successfully created a unique paranormal fantasy world that combines time traveling, fairy kingdoms, witchcraft, shape-shifters and vampires.† †

The novel begins as Moira, princess of Geall, prepares to attempt the archetypal removal of the sword from the stone that will proclaim her the rightful Queen of the kingdom.† Although she has little doubt that she will succeed in this task, she is far less confident in her ability to lead her people into war against the evil Lilith and her legion of vampires.† For the past two months Moira has been preparing for the ultimate battle, along with the other five members of the Circle who were chosen by the Goddess Morrigan: wizard Hoyt and his wife Glenna the witch; shape-shifter Larkin and his betrothed Blair the Demon Hunter; and Cian, Hoytís brother and the only vampire to be fighting on the side of Truth and Goodness.† Although theyíre strong and resolute, theyíre vastly outnumbered by bloodthirsty demons. †

Moira and Cian have been circling each other since they first met in Morriganís Cross.† Sheís intrigued by him, but he has done his best to intimidate and alienate her.† Vampires donít have human emotions Ė and besides, even if he could admit that he has developed strong feelings for her, thereís no future together for a royal human and a scorned, feared immortal monster like himself.† But as the final fated battle at the Valley of Silence approaches, and death seems likely, Moira is no longer willing to play it safe.† Even if itís only for a few days or weeks, she and Cian will be together.† She can overcome his honorable protests and the objections of her fellow Geallians.† But she canít ignore the fact that in order to win the war, Cian may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.† †

You canít fully appreciate Valley of Silence if you havenít read the first two books in the trilogy.† Moira was a shy, studious and insecure young princess when she was first introduced.† Now she has come into her own as Queen and ably leads her people, whether that means fighting alongside them or rallying them with stirring speeches.† Sheís almost too good to be true in this installment, but itís important to remember that her character growth has taken place over the past 900 pages.† Similarly Cian, who was the very embodiment of a tortured hero, is more gallant and less acerbic than he appeared in the first two books.† Re-establishing his relationship with Hoyt has helped soften his edges, and once he is ready to admit his love for Moira heís truly a goner.†

† After the buildup from Morriganís Cross and Dance of the Gods, I have to admit a slight sense of disappointment in the final episode.† While Cian and Moira make excellent star-crossed lovers, their self-sacrificing actions are extremely predictable.† Because they have both become so noble, their relationship lacks the bite (sorry) of the lively affair between Blair and Larkin.† Ultimately the focus on the final intense battle, and the need to keep the reader updated on the other two couples, means that Moira and Cian donít receive the full attention they deserve.† †

Despite that minor frustration , itís a glorious moment when the vampire and the queen finally achieve the happiest of happy endings.† After more than 150 published books, itís amazing to me that Nora Roberts is still able to come up with new ideas and new directions for her remarkable storytelling abilities. † †

--Susan Scribner

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