Evil returns and siblings reunite to defeat a common enemy in this debut fantasy novel.
When a foreboding piece of parchment is discovered in King Richard Bymoor’s Kingdom of Driniri, it sets in motion a chain of events that leads to emotional reunions and terrible loss. Sensing a dark force in the document, King Richard seeks his estranged brother, Lord Markus of Seth, who abandoned the realm and his claim to the throne of Driniri many years ago. The men soon realize that the parchment is a piece of the evil Nalal’s legacy and “the origin of dark magic.” Lord Gamil of Raimar plans to reconstruct the parchment, access the source of Nalal’s power, and take over the realm. The brothers form an alliance and plan to marshal their forces against Gamil (“War is coming, Richard, and it’s coming your way,” Markus tells the king. “The hows and whys are not important now. We must prepare…There is no way I will let that madman get his hands on this knowledge”). They journey toward Raimar, accompanied by a group of faithful companions including the steadfast William, the magical Juvich, and Guthru the Ogre. An eerie forest, a massive wall, and a seemingly abandoned city offer clues to the origins of Nalal and his abilities. Terrifying creatures provide insight into Nalal’s past and hint that more potent and destructive secrets are hidden in the archives at Raven City in Raimar. This novel fulfills the promises of the genre; it features magic and otherworldly beings in a well-constructed, imaginary world. Atkins offers a cast of likable characters, led by the endearing Richard and the mysterious Markus. The plot tension builds nicely with every corpse and eerily abandoned dwelling leading to a gratifying standoff between his two heroes and their sinister prey. The brothers’ storyline is by far the most engaging. While the duo leads a small force toward Gamil, Atkins’ parallel plot focuses on the military and the outmanned forces of Seth and Driniri. Here, the author gets bogged down in strategy and troop movement. The ultimate battle between Raimar and the armies of Driniri and Seth feels superfluous following the climax at Raven City. Yet the book recovers nicely at the end. Narrative threads are resolved, though Atkins strategically leaves a few loose ends.
A satisfying start to a new series about two royal brothers confronting a dark lord.