The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Anne Pierce is not the typical fantasy trope that classical literary scholars love to deride. Those who dabble in fantasy will probably not really enjoy it, as packed as it is with fantasy words that have no English equivalents and an over-arching quest based solely on a poetic riddle. The trilogy is not the story of one girl, a simple child named Aerial, with a great destiny who fights a witch and saves the world; it is about love and sacrifice and time. In fact, it is not so much an adventure as it is a slow progression, an evolution of one person from the humblest of beginnings to the greatest of heights. There is no happy, fantasy, fairy-tale ending, only the knowledge that the three books were a snapshot in Aerial’s life and after they finished, she does not get to stop and rest. The journey continues.
Aerial is a slave who loves her mistress, a beautiful wealthy maiden named Eoduin. When her owner is captured by a fearsome, vampiric darkangel named Irrylath, she is cast out of the house as punishment for letting her mistress be taken. To revenge her friend, she arranges to be captured as well and after serving in his household, she slowly becomes aware that the darkangel is as much a victim as her friend and the twelve women he stole before her. Though Aerial instinctively wants to save Irrylath, she eventually becomes convinced that he will have to be destroyed for the good of their world. This sparks a quest within a quest, where saving one man becomes the impetus for Aerial to travel to the very heart of the world and eventually leave everything she knows behind to take up the mantel of the ancient beings that created their entire planet.