In Centeno’s (Dark Sanity, 2014, etc.) latest novel, a “humyn” prince hopes a marriage of necessity to a high elf will end a terrible war. Demons plan otherwise.
Prince Aarian of Vlydyn casts aside his humyn love, Belisa, in favor of wedding a high elf princess of Lar’a’dos, but an evil plan threatens to destroy the prince’s humbling sacrifice. The dark elves’ ruler, Saldovin, makes a pact with demons, who call down their chaos upon Prince Aarian’s land to prevent the wedding. Yet the dark elf’s bargain proves only too effective: rather than merely shatter the peace of humyns and high elves, the demon hordes destroy the humyn kingdom and continue on to threaten the entire world (known as Yunedar). With only a handful of humyns remaining in all the realm, Prince Aarian is forced to look for help among horrifying allies: gargoyles, vampires, werewolves, dark elves, orcs, trolls, ogres and their overlord, a powerful dragon known as Earmathras. Taming his own doubts and the loss of Belisa—and taking up the role of the monsters’ chosen one, as foretold by prophecy—Aarian takes the fight to the demon legions in a final battle to save the ruins of Vlydyn and all of Yunedar. Unfortunately, characters are thin and familiar: the protagonist is impressively heroic, dragons are crafty and old, counselors are hidebound and stuffy, and so forth. There are no real surprises in the cast, beyond the mildly novel inclusion of creatures such as orcs and werewolves in speaking roles, while language is standard to most medieval-esque fantasies (think “accursed” and “slay”). Tonally, the book has much more in common with Dragonlance novels than with A Song of Ice and Fire: sex is kept offstage, violence is restrained and cinematic, and swearing is nonexistent. It’s an adventure for any age group.
Serviceable, undistinguished fantasy fare.