War of the Sentinels is the third book in the Dark Lands series, a young adult supernatural fantasy set in the netherworld between life and death. The series is meant for a younger YA crowd with a fourteen-year-old protagonist and some similarities to the early Harry Potter books: a Snape-like character, an ever-changing castle, the fated one. But instead of taking place in a hidden realm among the muggles, the Dark Lands series is set among the dead. Lulu | September, 2017 | Paperback | 307 pp
Warning: Unavoidable spoilers ahead!
In the first book, we’re introduced to Sundown and her older brother Webb – two recently deceased souls who have entered the Dark Lands where a few chosen souls are sent to keep the balance. For every Glorian who enters (like Sundown and Webb), an evil Vindicative enters, to keep that balance. Each Glorian has powers, one of several different types, and they are trained within the Glorian castle for use against the Vindicatives and other strange creatures under the control of the Dark Man who assaults the castle on a nightly basis. In the second book, the castle came under heavy attack and just before Webb is attacked, there is an explosion throwing Webb to safety – but Sundown is gone.
In War of the Sentinels, Sundown finds herself back in Glorian, but in a different time. Kane is still there and some of the other elders, but they have no idea who she is – and most importantly, they’ve never heard of Webb either. She discovers that she is in a time before the Dark Man has arrived, before the nightly assaults began. A time when all of the Sentinels (Glorians who could use more than one ability) had still been alive.
Sundown had heard of the great battle that claimed the lives of all the Sentinels in the past. Now, she was about to live through it.
Sundown’s power is reclaiming time. She is able to stop time and rewind if necessary. This comes in handy during battle. If one of her fiends is about to be killed, she can reclaim time and warn them. The problem is if two reclaimers are in close proximity and rewind time simultaneously, it can create an explosion and a resulting rift in time. This is what happened atop the Glorian castle that saved Webb but sent her spiraling back to the past. It also opened a rift atop the castle which could be used to send the Dark Man’s army from the future to the past, right to the very top of the castle.
During her first foray against an evil creature that had followed her through the rift, Sundown learns that she can not only reclaim time, she can also walk through time and make changes such as re-positioning someone so they don’t get hurt. She’s isn’t a reclaimer after all, but a time walker – a theoretical type of Glorian and the only one of her kind. Now in the past and knowing what she knows about what is to come, she works with the Sentinels and Glorian Council to train all inhabitants for the coming battle. The Dark Man is coming soon.
Now that we’re in the past, there are new characters introduced. Sundown meets Lucien, the son of Kane – last of the Sentinels from her time. She had no idea that he had a son. She develops a fast friendship with Lucien that leads to something more, while Kane, a moody and terse character from the future, has a completely different persona in the past. He’s kind – even approves of Sundown and Lucien’s relationship. He even makes – gasp – jokes. Kane’s also missing his massive facial scar, a sign of what’s to come.
Sundown’s arrival in the Dark Lands of the past heralds the arrival of the Dark Man. Although the current council doesn’t know who or what this Dark Man is who Sundown is warning them about, they have an idea. There has always been a balance in the Dark Lands. When one Glorian enters, so does a Vindicative. And now that they know Sundown is a Time Walker, something only once theorized, it is a sign that the balance will be restored with an equally great negative energy.
This time, we read from the Dark Man’s perspective. We find out who he is- or was. We also find out why he is there, and how he got there. His chapters are spectacularly grim – filled with darkness and loathing. Although powerful, he is not this all-knowing, perfect evil. Even he is confused about the Dark Lands. But he feels the power there, and he wants to consume it all. Attacking the castle for the first time, he meets one Glorian he had come in contact with centuries earlier. I’ll let you figure that one out.
In the first two books, I found similarities to Harry Potter that truly act as a homage to our beloved series, rather than an imitation. In this third book, there is a perceived reference to Sybill Trelawney’s first prophesy which made the connection between Harry potter and Voldemort: neither can live while the other survives. It is not quite the same since our characters are neither dead nor alive. But there is a similar connection between Sundown and the Dark Man; a balance is constructed.
War of the Sentinels is an exciting jump into a backstory previously referenced as legend, putting the main character smack dab into an ancient battle we already know will change everything but never expected to see. It’s not over! War of the Sentinels didn’t finish the story which means there is more to come. I look forward to reading the next installment!
Dark Lands: War of the Sentinels
by Lyn I. Kelly