The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure is the first of the Wraeththu Histories trilogy that Storm Constantine wrote about 17 years after writing the original Wraeththu Chronicles. This book begins about halfway through the first of the original Wraeththu books, The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, and ends shortly before the ending of the last of the original Wraeththu books, The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire. For that reason, I would not recommend reading this review unless you have read the original Wraeththu Chronicles or you do not mind if part of the story is spoiled.
I was a little apprehensive about reading this book since I loved the Wraeththu Chronicles so much and I was afraid that revisiting it would be disappointing and not at all the same. Now that I’ve read the first two books in the Wraeththu Histories trilogy, I still prefer the original trilogy but I did not find this one worse so much as having a different purpose. The poetic writing is not as prominent, but this series is told from third person instead of the first person point of view so all the thoughts of the characters are not as fleshed out and a simpler, more succinct writing style is more fitting.
The first Wraeththu trilogy was more about the individual Wraeththu characters – the story of Pellaz in the first book, then Swift, then Cal. It was an exploration of what it meant to be Wraeththu and the way this new race developed and adjusted (or didn’t adjust) to no longer being a part of humanity. The Wraeththu Histories series is less character-driven and more plot-oriented; it is beginning to explore where the Wraeththu and their sister race the Kamagrian came from and why they were created.
In The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, the affects of the death and rebirth of Pellaz on the rest of Wraeththu-kind is shown. Ulaume (whom we met briefly in The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit in a scene in which he attempted to overpower Pellaz and strangle him with his hair) is obsessed with getting revenge on Pellaz. He makes plans to cast a spell on Pellaz during an important festival night and instead feels the death of Pellaz very strongly. This affects him deeply and Ulaume runs away from Lianvis and the rest of the Kakkahaar tribe. Soon after, he finds an abandoned Kakkahaar child, whom he cares for and raises.
Meanwhile, in Saltrock, the shaman Orien also sees the death of Pellaz. Eventually, Cal returns to Saltrock heartbroken and sure Orien knows why Pellaz was killed. Flick becomes close to Cal and is devastated when Cal kills Orien (yes, more details on what happened with Cal and Orien are in this book). Flick had promised Pellaz he would find his family one day, so he leaves Saltrock in order to fulfill this promise and meets a mysterious spirit who teaches him about the dehara, a pantheon of gods. Eventually, Flick finds Mima and Terez, the sister and brother of Pellaz, and meets up with Ulaume and the child Lileem who appears Wraeththu yet does not.
The main characters in this book are Flick, Ulaume, Mima, and Lileem, although Pellaz does appear more toward the end which made me really happy. I missed seeing him in the second and third books, but this book has a lot more about him. I was hoping to read more about Vaysh as well since I found him a particularly intriguing character, but he only made a brief appearance or two.
This book also contains more details on the Kamagrian and their similarities to and differences from the Wraeththu, which was interesting since I was not sure exactly how similar they were.
I did find this book a lot harder to get into than any of the original Wraeththu books, probably because it started with characters I knew very little about. Once it got going, I really enjoyed it, although not quite as much as the original trilogy. I still love all the characters – even the minor ones always seem to have their own personalities that set them apart from the others. Each character has their strengths as well as their flaws and is very realistically portrayed.
While not quite as enjoyable as the original trilogy, this book was interesting and well-done. It was fun to see more of Cal’s return to Saltrock after Pell’s death as well as a few glimpses into Pellaz’s life in Immanion. Also, this book tied together events in the first three books so the motivation behind happenings made more sense. I would highly recommend these to anybody who has read the original Wraeththu trilogy.