First of a series illustrating the endless struggle between order magic and chaos magic.
A thousand years ago, a war between order and chaos concluded when order’s Young God defeated and imprisoned chaos’s Serpent; since then, order’s warrior-mage Knights of the Rose and philosopher-mage Ladies of the Isle have reigned ascendant. Now, upon the illness of her father, Duke Urien, Averil of the Isle must return to Quitaine, where it will be her duty to marry and produce an heir. Clodovec, King of Lys, a covert chaos devotee, has ambitions to free the Serpent. Clodovec has stealthily been conquering all the duchies of the realm—and Quitaine is next on his list. Young farmer Gereint, meanwhile, feels within him the development of all but uncontrollable wild magic powers; fleeing from his stubborn mother, he becomes a postulant in the order of the Knights of the Rose. With his unique abilities, he detects the presence of a type of magic nobody else can fathom, bound up in a plot to murder Duke Urien. Somehow, Averil combines the knowledge and skill she acquired on the Isle with Gereint’s wild power to fend off the plot against her father. Soon, though, Clodovec invades Quitaine with his enslaved horde of chaos mages wielding magic that the Knights cannot withstand. Averil has a stark choice: flee and abandon Quitaine, perhaps forever, or defy Clodovec and hope to bargain with him.
A solid debut, with believable characters and intrigues and several excellent sequences that hint at good things to come.