Faerie Wars Chronicles Robin: The four books of this otherworld quartet are Faerie Wars, The Purple Emperor, Ruler of the Realm and Faerie Lord.

The Faerie Wars Chronicles encompass three dimensions, the Faerie Realm, Earth (which the Faeries call the Analogue World) and Hael. Portals, very occasionally natural, usually controlled by a magical technology, enable the inhabitants to pass between the dimensions. Most people on Earth are unaware of them, and in the Faerie Realm the technology is extremely expensive, so the Royal Family’s portal is one of the very few. The inhabitants of Hael seem to be able to get to Earth fairly easily, and their transports are occasionally seen (and called flying saucers, but that’s another matter); getting to the Faerie Realm seems more problematic, although Faerie sorcerers can open small portals with dark magic to “summon” the inhabitants of Hael (demons, as they see them). Yes, they’re pretty scary. And definitely up to no good.

The Faeries first discovered Earth when a small group of them were shipwrecked on a barren island. They found a glowing portal which led to a land of abundance. They kept returning home in hope of a rescue, before giving up hope and leaving a record for future travellers.

At the time the Chronicles are set, this event is in the distant past, and the descendants of the shipwrecked group have long made their home on Earth, while in the Faerie Realm, the natural portal on the island has been studied, copied and improved upon. The one big disadvantage of the portal had been that passing through it into an alien dimension turned the travellers into tiny winged versions of themselves, but the Faerie technicians have solved that problem, as well as being able to “aim” the portal anywhere they wish.

The Faerie Realm is home to several races but the most prominent in the Chronicles are the Faeries of the Light and the Faeries of the Night. They live in a state of simmering hostility, blandished over with truces and alliances. Nominally the Faeries of the Light have the upper hand, with Apatura Iris ruling as the Purple Emperor. The Royal Family lives in the Purple Palace, an ancient and mysterious building. The Faeries of the Night are led by Black Hairstreak.

Their Analogue World cousins notwithstanding, these Faeries do not seem to be much distinguished from the humans of Earth except by the use of magic, which also forms the basis of a very unusual technology. Their capital is a sprawling old city which like the politics and the economy verges on the mediaeval. There is a fair amount of poverty, crime and inferior magic about, as the rich and powerful control the better spells. Religion is in the background, as one of the differences between the Lighters and Nighters, but is not elaborated upon. Some of the Faeries of the Night practice a very dark magic indeed and have contact with demons, goblins and imps.

It is interesting, although it doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the story, that the Faerie characters’ names are also the names of butterflies and moths on Earth.

The Faerie Wars series is very enjoyable, packed with action, with unusual concepts and situations, strongly-drawn characters, plots with plenty of twists and turns. The Faerie Realm is no sunny Fairyland, but with all its political manoeuvring and compromise, the ugly threat of war, the shocking cruelties of the opposition, it is still full of life and energy.

Also see:

Faerie Wars

The Purple Emperor

Ruler of the Realm

Faerie Lord