Reviewed by: E, Has, Lou, MinnChica
Thoughts on the Hero
E: Graydon has always been a steadfast part of Dragos’ inner circle. He was one of the first to accept Pia and remained a calm voice of reason through all of the turmoil which has plagued Dragos ever since. Unlike the other Sentinels he kept his private life rather private so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading. I absolutely loved finding out who he was, what was behind his quiet privateness, and I felt so much for him as I learned his painful past and his hopes/fears for the future. There is a saying about being beware of the quiet ones and wow Graydon certainly fit that perfectly. He remained a lovely counterbalance to the fire of the other Sentinels but never once did I think he needed to display his power openly because it was just his and he owned it. The depth of feeling he had kept under wraps, the delicate way he maneuvered, and how much he sacrificed to those he cared about and was loyal too was just amazing.
Lou: Ahhh Graydon. Your book finally arrived and I was so nervous because I was unsure of your heroine, Bel, who was sort of unknown. And the unknown makes me super nervous. But pfft. I worried for naught. Like E said above, Graydon had been a solid fixture of Drago’s sentinels, and Shadow’s End made me fall so much in love with this quiet hero. Not only was he kind amongst a ferocious bunch of warriors but his loyalty and depth of emotion ran deep. Not only did he love his Wyr family but the love he felt for Bel and the depth he went for her was utterly romantic. Graydon had to swim in murky political waters because of his position in the Wyr and how he had to keep quiet with what happened between him, Bel, Ferion, and Malphas all those two hundred and fifty odd years. I was surprised in how integral Graydon was to the Wyrs until I finally read Shadow’s End and how he was able to bring people together.
Has: I adored Graydon. He was loyal, stubborn, and like Lou and E said above, so very steadfast with his dedication to Bel and to his role as a sentinel. I loved that the first half of the book focused on the backstory between Bel and Graydon with how their romance was established. There were a few hints in previous books, which gave hints into their relationship. Yet I never really grasped just how utterly romantic and devoted Graydon became towards Bel when she was caught up in a dangerous tangled web of a trap caused by her son and Malphas, the pariah Djinn, which melted my heart. Graydon is really the heart and soul of the sentinels and why he is such an integral figure for them and to Dragos, but it also emphasizes how much of an honourable, committed hero he was for Bel, who never really experienced that.
MinnChica: I was so excited to read Graydon, and I adored him. He had the tortured, brooding hero thing down to a science, and he made it work for him!! I loved that he was so completely and absolutely dedicated to Bel, despite everything they were put through. I also loved that he was wholly committed to his position within the Wyr. Unlike the previous Wyr sentinels, Graydon was adamant about keeping him position within the Wyr, regardless of who he may or may not mate with. I loved that about him!
Thoughts on the Heroine
E: I will also admit that like Lou I was worried about Bel. I was never able to read her during her appearances earlier in the series except to tell she was hiding something and it colored all of her interactions with Pia, Dragos, and his crew. It was really interesting to see exactly what she was hiding and for how long. As past events unfolded, I really began to wonder if she could ever free herself from the iron chains and ice walls she built over the centuries. Like Graydon, what she did for loyalty and love was amazing as was the depth of fear and feelings she kept hidden. She juggled so much during their separation and really proved to be an incredibly strong woman. I ended up really liking her as a heroine and thought she would hold her own against Harrison’s flashier heroines. I would love to read a short story with all of them interacting together **evil grin**. I really liked how well she matched with Graydon and how they both valued the same things.
Lou: Bel, I must admit, I wasn’t sure if you would do for Graydon. Unknown heroines and heroes make me nervous, especially in long-running series. Bel was awesome. Seriously awesome. Not only was she an Elven Queen, she was one of early powers of the Elders and she had a living hatred for Dragos for very understandable reasons. From the moment she saw Graydon she had this connection for him and saw his kindness and the great man he had always been. Bel’s life hadn’t been easy, with a cold and loveless marriage with her husband before he was killed. A man who turned out to be abusive. She took Ferion into her heart as a babe and loved and cared and fought for him as if he was her own flesh and blood. What she did for Ferion meant her and Graydon had to be apart for over two hundred years. Bel would definitely hold her own amongst Thea’s other heroines. Not only was she scary when she needed to be but she was also loving, caring, and fiercely loyal to her own.
Has: I also found Bel to be more of an enigma because we rarely saw much of her inner thoughts and motives in her previous appearances, but Thea Harrison did a fantastic job in portraying her past and her character, which really surprised me. Bel was such a wonderful and well fleshed out character and I loved that she was a perfect partner and lover to Graydon because she understood and respected his values for loyalty and caring and protecting the people they loved. It was also heartbreaking and bittersweet to read about their long yearning to belong together despite the bargain they made with Malphas which caused their centuries long separation.
MinnChica: I have to admit, it took me a while to remember who Bel was. I have a horrible memory as it is, and add in the fact that Bel has always been a bit of an enigma, and it took me a little while to catch up. LOL But, once I got into the flow of their story, I adored her. She was so dedicated to her family that she was willing to give up everything to protect her son. I hated seeing her go through that, but her willingness to make the sacrifice made me love her. Add in the fact that I thought she was the perfect complimentary heroine to Graydon, and I was sold.
E: This is a hard one. So many scenes resonated. Graydon’s discussion with Dragos when he needed to take a leave of absence really said how much he meant to Dragos. Graydon’s first meeting with Bel in the present. A conversation with Graydon, Liam, Dragos, and Pia which really sets things up for the future I can’t go into detail because SPOILERS but oh so good and so touching. But I think I am going to pick the strategy session because I think it really illustrated one of the points Lou made about how Graydon built connections. In one room at the same time all working for the same effort was really a cross-section of all the different species and characters Harrison has introduced us too. Not all have been on the same side in fact some had been enemies but they all liked/respected Graydon and were willing to hear his case and do what they could.
Lou: I had to think hard about this but my favourite scene might be where Graydon and Bel had to explain the situation to others without actually saying so. It showed how in tune they were together and Graydon’s protective instincts and love for Bel showed and he didn’t care he was being so public. I also liked the scenes E mentioned above because it’s so rare that Dragos shows emotion outside of Pia and Liam. And omg, that scene with Liam and the rest following that harrowing experience (darn you Thea Harrison *shakes fists*) that left me with another lump in my throat on top of the other boulder in my throat.
Has: Lou and E mentioned a lot of my favourite scenes because so many had poignant and sad yearning scenes, especially with the constraints that Bel and Graydon was under. But I think my favourite scene in the book was the meeting between Bel and Graydon just before they planned their big confrontation with Malphas. That scene with their first kiss since their forced separation was brimming with unfulfilled promises and craving for each other. It really hit me as a reader because I felt their hankering for each other and I loved how they slowly brought down those walls and faced their danger together.
MinnChica: Oh man, I hate picking out favorite scenes from any of Harrison’s books. SO HARD!! I would have to go with the same one that Lou mentioned, when Graydon and Bel had to beat around the bush to tell everyone exactly what was going on. It gave me a chance to see some of my previous favorite couples from the series, and that is always a special treat.
Dislike about book
E: Umm without spoilers all I can say is the box of tissues came out with a particular scene. Oh it HURT, and then I even felt for someone I didn’t think I would ever feel for because of what they risked knowing the possible outcome.
Lou: Because of spoilers. That scene. THAT FUCKING SCENE. You made me cry, Harrison. You made me cry ugly tears. Then you made me cry afterwards with THAT scene. Heartbreaking tears. I literally had to step away from the book to compose myself.
There is one critique I do have and that is I thought the beginning of the novel with Bel and Graydon dragged a little and how they fell so deeply in love in such a short time span was a little too brief for me.
Has: What Lou and E said about that scene. That tore me up especially with the aftermath which didn’t gloss over the repercussions or feelings of the characters. I also agree with Lou about the buildup with Bel and Graydon’s feelings for each other. I felt there should have been more buildup with their relationship but I liked how their romance developed which definitely deepened with a lot of depth and poignancy.
MinnChica: Oh man, yeah… I can’t even. The heartbreak!!
Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
E: This was a very good emotional story. So many threads were pulled to their conclusion yet it wasn’t without cost. At the same time some hurts were mended and I think overall the world is in a better place as much as I wished it could have occurred in a different way for some. I think Shadow’s End was one of the stronger stories in this series and made all the more powerful because of the romance between to outwardly quiet, controlled, and serene characters. I am looking forward to seeing just how much things shift given the events and outcome of Shadow’s End.
I give Shadow’s End a B+
Lou: Shadow’s End was one of the most emotive and moving story in the series so far. The romance was beautiful and Graydon and Bel are just perfect for each other. There is a lot of pain in this book. Pain that so many characters will feel for a long time and it will deeply resonate. It’s definitely a game-changer in some ways. I also loved the return of old characters with Rune and Dragos taking another small step together in mending their friendship. I really want those two to become a family again.
And Liam! What a surprise you are. I can’t wait to see where Thea Harrison is going to take him and out much more can he grow in such a short space of time.
I give Shadow’s End a B+
Has: In a lot of ways Shadow’s End feels like the closure of one arc and setting up with another because I agree with Lou and E that this was a game changer for a lot of characters at the end of this book, especially with the huge price that was paid by some. While this was the darkest book yet of the series, I also felt there was a new beginning too and I am also looking forward to what will happen next. Shadow’s End for me was also one of the most memorable and romantic couples that has been featured in this series. I loved the heartfelt devotion and commitment as well as the sacrifices that Bel and Graydon shared and I was so glad how they finally defeated their enemy to be together finally even though there were painful consequences. Bel and Graydon’s romance is definitely one of the highlights in this series and I hope we get to see more of their story in future books.
I also give Shadow’s End a B+
MinnChica: All in all, while I really enjoyed Bel and Graydon and thought they had a unique and different romance than what Harrison has given us in the past, I also felt as if there was that special something missing from this book. The previous Elder Races stories have had this crack to them that had me pouring over the pages. This book didn’t have that same spark for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book, I just wanted MORE!! 🙂
I give Shadow’s End a B-