A few people have asked me why I’m concluding the series with “shadows,” and not “light” or “darkness.”
I’m ending there because, as the series draws to its conclusion, I wanted to put Shirina, the Sorceress of Shadows main point of view character, in the worst possible place she could be.
You can tread fully in light or darkness and those people are often remembered for bringing wonderful or terrible change to our world. Most people, however, tread in shadows, lacking either conviction, determination or faith to pick a side. And that's hardly a bad thing.
If everyone was certain that they were right at all times, if no one could be talked into one side or the other, our world would be so inflexible that it would crack under the pressure.
The determination and conviction to pursue light is great, but not always right. There is no 100% right in our world. You take a stand, you hurt someone, somewhere. It doesn’t mean you want to, or hope to, but it happens, simply because you’re shifting reality a bit. If you’re successful in your crusade, no matter how righteous, and perhaps even if more righteous, than effects will ripple down throughout the world. That can be sometimes wonderful. Sometimes, not so much.
People have always associated pursuing the light with heroism. I don’t disagree, but I don’t think it’s the most heroic act either. Those who walk almost exclusively in the light or darkness lack something most of us have: doubt. Doubt is what makes us stay in the shadows. Doubt makes us second-guess ourselves, our actions and our ability to affect change.
But doubt is not all bad. Doubt makes us stop and think about consequences before acting. There are those who never act, who become paralyzed by the shadows, and then there are those who reach the light or the darkness for a moment before retreating back into shadows, or claiming new belief in the extremes.
Shadows are difficult to live with. You don’t have the self-assurance of always being right. Of always knowing what’s best. There’s no clarity of vision or unflinching belief.
Shadows can betray easily since you can’t see what’s coming next. Shadows are not clear. They have different nuances, and salvation or destruction is not easily spotted in them.
Shadows are tricky to travel. They offer little assurance or comfort. Even darkness, in its own twisted way, offers those.
Shadows don’t offer promises. Light tends to promise salvation and a righteous path. Darkness offers power and self-assurance. And both a greater goal, something to strive towards, no matter how good or evil.
Shadows have none of those. They skirt both light and darkness, with none of the promises or assurances. There are no guarantees in shadows. I don’t mean to say light and darkness offer those as well, but they offer a clear goal. And both, in their very different incarnations, offer power. The power to affect change.
Which is why Sorceress of Shadows, for me, is both the most intriguing and difficult book to write of the series. Cassara had doubt, but also a clear goal. Avarielle isn’t acquainted with doubt and indecision never had tea with her.
But Shirina is trapped in a land of shadows. Where she had believed to be championing the light all of her life, she’s now surrounded by the shadows left by Ravenhold’s fall.
And, let’s face it, for an ambitious, confident and powerful sorceress, shadows are a sucky thing to be surrounded by.
(It’s a magical thing too, but that would take too long to explain. Read the series and find out! Mwa ha.)