A fantasy debut sees a royal family under attack and a young prince who must defend the crown, his city, and civilization.
Prince Sillik, son of King Saldor, has been gone from Illicia for about seven years. Two months ago, he received a telepathic summons from his father implying an emergency. Sillik now approaches the city, which has “ruled the known world” for nearly 7,000 years. But on reaching home, he finds a sense of fear ascendant. He meets with his father’s principal advisers—Lady Briana, Lord Kenton, and Lord Gen. Greenup—and learns that Saldor is dead. Worse, Sillik’s three half brothers—Rendar, Crinthan, and Doran—have all been likewise assassinated. There’s no queen, because Sillik’s mother, Jenna, died during his birth, and he’s now the crown prince. Thankfully, he’s a Master of the Seven Laws, making him a formidable wizard capable of sensing the dark magic used to murder his father. He avoids a magical trap that someone placed on the throne itself and wonders whether his bitter uncles, Melin and Noswin, are involved in the chaos. When Sillik does learn who killed his father, and that the man escaped, he postpones his coronation. The prince is determined to track the murderer down. Clues found in the king’s dead hand—paper map symbols of the cities Colum, Nerak, and the Blasted Hills—point the way. Also deeply invested in the prince’s success is Lady Silvia, one of the Seven Gods of Law. If Sillik fails, the Council of Nine, which instigated the Demon War, wins.
Opening a new series, the author is preaching the gospel of the genre. There are loving touches of the classics evident in the narrative’s every layer, from the political intrigue of Frank Herbert’s Dune to the vigorously structured culture in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. The overarching theme of the positive number seven versus the negative number nine lends Cannon’s world a cosmic drumbeat that the characters dance to—and though it seems cloying at first, readers should grow to appreciate it as essential to the author’s vast arrangement. After intensive (and successful) worldbuilding, Cannon switches into thriller gear, and magical forensics factor in, as in the line “The energies from the duel still whispered discord. Fierce energies had been flung across the room and had eventually slain his father....Burned tapestries and melted stone showed how fierce the fight had been.” Characters possess the vibrancy to add to, rather than vanish within, a complex plot. Melin, concerned about Briana, loses his patience and asks the cool Sillik, “So are you bedding her or not?” And while a fantasy thriller filled with secret sects of killers among the healers would be fabulous, Cannon doesn’t settle for that. Sillik leaves Illicia to hunt for the king’s assassin, offering readers a broader scope. In the morally dank city of Colum, for example, the prince meets Renee, a charismatic, though guarded, woman battling injustice. Her appearance adds emotional depth to the finale while the epilogue is a triumph of detailed maneuvering that should entice audiences back for the sequel.
A joyously embellished and tightly guided epic fantasy thriller.