In Effemm’s debut novel, King Hhalon of Genan is driven to choices that bring danger to his reign.
Infuriated that his son Prince Hhamen has taken up with Dena, daughter of a rich and insolent merchant, the king is further provoked by what he perceives as attacks on his royal prestige. The symbol of his royal house is white gold—reserved for the king only—but in an act of rebellion, earls and commoners such as Dena’s father have begun using the metal indiscriminately. When the king banishes earls Teraven and Novan to spearhead an expedition to expand Genan to the south, forces within the realm begin bigger moves against him. The nation’s military, espionage, and religious factions plot and take subtle action, and soon imprisonments, intrigue, and danger are afoot. Before long, the disarray within the borders of Genan draws the attention of the vili—inhuman creatures that have long coveted the land of Genan. In Effemm’s novel, descriptive detail is generally sumptuous, offering sensory immersion for the reader. Dialogue is clear, if somewhat undistinguished, and the largish cast is reasonably distinct but not very sophisticated. In addition to a few typos, word choice occasionally seems odd—“Do you think they won’t move when they see us trying to nibble at their territory?”—and some cultural references appear unfit for the author’s fictional world: “ ‘Prince Charming,’ Dena said, giggling as she admired her prince.” Pacing is deliberate, with painstaking worldbuilding not unlike the Song of Ice and Fire novels, particularly in terms of the intrigue, politics, war, and feudal fantasy setting. However, though this story has a few strong curse words and several mentions of sex, its violence is generally discreet and nearly free of atrocities. Also included are a simple but straightforward map and a 12-page glossary, including an alphabet. As is now customary, the novel ends on a cliffhanger, setting the stage for a series.
Slow, highly political fantasy.