The cataclysm began more than a century earlier, when the King of Ayr died before naming an heir to the throne, and damned his realm to chaos. The cold-blooded conspiracies of the Renne and the Wills—each family desirous of the prize of rule—would sunder the one kingdom, and spawn generations of hatred and discord.
Now Toren Renne, leader of his great and troubled house, dreams of peace—a valiant desire that has spawned hostility among his kinsmen, and vicious internal plots against his life. In the opposing domain, Elise Wills's desire for freedom is to be crushed, as an unwanted marriage to an ambitious and sinister lord looms large. As always, these machinations of nobles are affecting the everyday lives of the common folk—and feeding a bonfire of animosity that has now trapped an unsuspecting young Valeman Tam and two fortune-hunting friends from the North in its high, killing flames.
But the closer Toren comes to achieving his great goal of uniting two enemy houses, the more treachery flowers. Nobles and mystics alike conspire to keep the realm divided, knowing that only in times of strife can their power grow.
And perhaps the source of an unending misery lies before an old king's passing, beyond the scope of history, somewhere lost in a fog of myth and magic roiling about an ancient enchanter named Wyrr—who bequeathed to his children terrible gifts that would poison their lives...and their deaths. It is a cursed past and malevolent sorcery that truly hold the land, its people, and its would-be rulers bound. And before the already savaged kingdom can become one again, all Ayr will drown in a sea of blood.
In the land of Ayr two noble families, the Renn and the Wills, fight for political advantage in this sprawling first volume in a new high fantasy series distinguished by intelligent characters and believable politics. The Renn noblemen set out on a path of treachery, conceiving a plan to murder one of their own at the Westbrook Fair and, by so doing, frame the other family. The Wills plan an equally heinous act; they want to force a spunky young noblewoman to marry a handsome but subjugated prince, in order to produce an heir who'll be their puppet on the throne. Meanwhile, Tam, Fynnol and Baore, three young cousins of supposed peasant background, believing themselves far removed from the politics of the nobles, blithely set out from their sheltered homes in the Vale to make their fortunes. But when they encounter Alaan, a mysterious rogue with a charming demeanor, all their plans go awry. Supernatural forces cause paths and tributaries to mysteriously and unpredictably open, channeling the travelers into unforeseen lands and onto heretofore hidden islands, with hazardous results. Inevitably, all paths lead to the Westbrook Fair. Russell (River Into Darkness) so neatly interweaves the supernatural characters into the story that the magical elements seem an organic part of the history being made. This a perfectly plotted, beautifully written fantasy.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Like a really well-written Wheel of Time...
And shorter, too. Hell, there's even a Tam in here, too.
This is one of my Favorites.
Sean Russell's Swan Wars Trilogy happens to be on of the greatest series I have read. The story telling is breath taking, and I'm always shocked it's not always up there with LOTR and WOT and other fantasy greats.
Get the sample, and you'll be hooked. I promise.