THE GALLANT: Verrain's back story in a novella


Lochaber Axeman, QC
Feb 9, 2008
Over the last twenty years, I've seen a lot of fans of Janny's Wars of Light and Shadow series ask for more of Verrain, Master Spellbinder but not-quite-Fellowship-Sorcerer who lives in the middle of a abomination-infested swamp that contains the worst nightmares of drakespawn crossbreeds. Verrain is responsible for ensuring that nothing gets out of Mirthlvain to plague the populations of humanity that live in Melhalla and Shand, not to mention any of the Free Wilds in those areas. This novella, found in the anthology Secrets and Spells, will satisfy any Verrain fan. The anthology can be found on Amazon:

This novella is about how Verrain came to be the Guardian of Mirthlvain, and how he took up residence at Meth Isle Fortress. His background is not what one would expect of the reclusive Verrain, but it makes perfect sense in hindsight. It also ties in to the Wars' main story line showing the tensions between Townborn and Clansmen, and why they existed, and how those tensions not being managed properly at the time of the Mistwraith's invasion of Athera led to the Rebellion against Charter Law.

Janny does her usual fantastic job of combining information throughout a short novel that is almost entirely denouement. Her characteristically complex prose succeeds in forcing a slow read to understand the nuggets of information that are providing more than just Verrain's back story, but also the story of pre-rebellion Athera, showing us the underpinnings of why things were they way they were when Curse of the Mistwraith begins. We also gain more understanding about the ways of the Clans and what their role was when the Paravians still roamed the Paravian continent.

If you are not familiar with the Wars of Light and Shadow, The Gallant is not the place to begin. You will have more questions than answers. Ideally, this would be read after Destiny's Conflict, but it could be read anytime after Curse of the Mistwraith. Five star effort, once again.
I disagree - The Gallant is the perfect teaser for the reader not familiar with the broader Wars of Light and Shadow. The central story of Verrain's betrayal and Lisianne's love is a classic short story of set up, action and an appropriate finale - to say more would betray the story.

There is enough world painting for those not familiar to understand the backdrop as The Gallant follows Verrain and Lisianne through their trials and tribulations. The setting and support characters add depth and nuance for those familiar with the Wars of Light and Shadow as The Gallant takes place over six hundred years earlier and provides a great backstory - but they aren't essential to really enjoy this rollicking read. I think this is some of Janny's tightest prose to date - I found this story's pacing faster than To Ride Hell's Chasm (itself a great read) and kept me guessing where it would end..

The anthology itself is ridiculously cheap and worth rather more than the purchase price.
The Secrets and Spells anthology is no longer available. Apparently, it was a time-limited offer. However, the short story The Gallant, along with the other 5 short stories set in the WoLAS universe, can be bought directly from
I missed the real paper version, had not realized it had been released in an anthology.
If you click on the link Bagpuss gave it will take you directly to the WoLaS short story page, for less than a cup of coffee you can have a glimpse of Athera's past.
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