The well-regarded author of numerous fantasy novels (The Summer Palace, 2008, etc.) embarks on a new series featuring swords, sorcery and political infighting.
Anrel Murau is the 22-year-old son of two powerful sorcerers, but he has barely any magical abilities himself. That means he will never be part of the ruling class, so Anrel returns from school to his hometown of Alzur to settle into a life as a clerk. But all is not well in Alzur; a corrupt and brutal sorcerer, Lord Allutar, now rules the town. When Allutar murders his friend, the idealistic Lord Valin, during a magical duel, Anrel vows to make sure that Valin’s democratic ideas get heard—and to bring Allutar to justice. Soon Anrel is on the run, meeting a family of witches and hatching a dangerous magical plot against Allutar. The author puts an astonishing amount of detail into the society he’s created, and its politics are often as engrossing as the action. Though Watt-Evans’ style is decidedly leisurely, it’s a good fit for the material, which at its best recalls rousing old-style swashbuckling tales.
A fine effort, and an intriguing set-up for future volumes.