The One Kingdom
Eos, February, 2001.
Hardcover, 463 pages.
The land of Ayr has known much hatred and bloodshed over the long years. Two ruling families, the Rennes and the Wills, have a bloody feud that continues today, although currently there is an uneasy truce. When the young ruler of the Rennes, Toren, wants to cede some land to the Wills in an gesture of peace, his own family begins to plot against him. The Wills have joined forces with a mysterious man from the past with an equally despicable plan. They plan to force a young noblewoman, Elise, to marry Prince Michael, and take their firstborn son away to rule as their puppet on the restored throne of the Wills. Meanwhile, three young cousins from the Dale, Tam, Fynnol and Baore set out on their first trip away from home, to trade some ancient artifacts for horses. A charming rogue, Alaan, meets up with the three young men and appears to save them from some terrible men at arms. But Alaan may be more than he seems, and he has some terrible enemies. After meeting Alaan, the cousins' journey becomes more and more strange. The paths they take seem to lead to strange places indeed, full of river spirits and deadly enemies.
The first book in a new high fantasy series, The One Kingdom follows a number of characters from all walks of society; all of their paths seems to lead to the Westbrook Fair, where treachery, intrigue and magic are the order of the day. The magical system is quite interesting, although it seems to be just developing in this first book: the truth potion which strangles liars is a particularly useful device. Sean Russell has a deft hand at plotting and the seemingly disparate stories are carefully tied together at the end. The strong-willed Elise, the glib but kind Prince Michael, and the evil Sir Hafyyd all come to life in this well-executed high fantasy which is sure to have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.
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This review was published in the April, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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