Eight hundred years have passed since King Connavar of the Rigante and his bastard son, Bane, defeated the invading army of Stone. Now the Rigante have lost the freedom and culture so many gave their lives to preserve. Only one woman remains who follows the ancient ways–the Wyrd of Wishing Tree Wood–and she alone knows the nature of the evil soon to be unleashed. But the Wyrd pins her hope on two men: a giant Rigante fighter, a man haunted by his failure to save his best friend from betrayal; and a youth whose deadly talents will earn him the rancor of the brutal Varlish. One will become the Ravenheart, an outlaw leader whose daring exploits will inspire the Rigante. The other will forge a legend–and light the fires of revolution. . . .
The third book in Gemmell's popular heroic fantasy saga, the Rigante series (The Sword in the Storm; Midnight Falcon), puts a host of characters through a load of action without much resolution. Centuries ago, after the capture of the Rigante hero, Connavar, Varlish troops subjugated the Rigante highlanders. In recent times the great-hearted warrior Jaim Grymauch promised to care for the infant son of his best friend, Lanovar, who was betrayed by the local lord, the Moidart. Now with Lanovar's son, Kaelin Ring, on the verge of manhood, the highlanders once again chafe under the Moidart's rule. While even the Moidart's son, Gaise Macon, can see the injustice in the situation, he has little influence over his single-minded father. Then the rape and murder of a young Varlish woman stirs up violence and raises questions. Kaelin and Jaim find the murderer with the help of the sorceress known as the Wyrd of Wishing Tree woods, but when Kaelin gives in to his bloodlust and kills the criminal, his aunt Maev sends him away to distant Black Mountain, near the mighty Rigante clan lord Call Jace. As each man accepts the fate laid out for him by the Wyrd, it's hard not to notice how Gemmell seems more intent on setting up the plot for his next book than on telling a balanced story. Plenty of loose ends most notably the future of Gaise clamor for expansion, but this novel seems mostly to be a place-keeper in the series.