The kickoff of a new fantasy series from the author of The Vacant Throne (2008, etc.).
Erenthrall is a city powered by magic channeled through a web of ley lines whose focus is the Nexus. Baron Arent Pallentor rules the city and controls the surrounding baronies by intimidation and his mastery of the ley system via the Wielders and the elite Primes, among whom Prime Wielder Augustus, like the baron himself, achieves near-immortality by bathing in the magic of the ley. The Baron orders the creation of extensions to his power at whim—new buildings, flying machines and other devices brought about by means of the ley’s magic. But a rebel group calling itself the Kormanley considers this a perversion of the natural order and seeks to oppose him. One faction of the Kormanley, losing patience with slow persuasion, turns to violence, becoming in effect a terrorist group. Allan Garrett, an ambitious member of the Baron’s SS-like Dogs, cannot prevent his wife’s death by one of the Kormanley’s bombs, and he deserts—but not before discovering he has the unconscious ability to suppress the effects of the ley’s magic. Kara Tremain, a young Wielder fast tracked as a future Prime, witnesses her parents’ deaths in another terrorist incident and becomes determined to help stamp the perpetrators out. What nobody yet grasps is that the appearance of “distortions,” weird and deadly space-time warps that appear at random to shred people and swallow buildings, has its direct cause in the stresses imposed on the ley. Magic operating along scientifically testable principles: Palmatier exploits an active imagination to good effect, with characters who develop along with the story—the first 200 pages, however, could have been condensed into 20—with plenty of tension and excitement.
Fantasy regulars looking for a fresh series with real bite should find it worth a try.