In this YA medieval fantasy, a noble family enjoys peacetime pursuits until history comes knocking.
On the world of Pentavia, in the realm of Treland, the city of Arwin’s Gate is about to host the largest tournament in a decade. Lady Isolda of House Hornbolt fears that it may be a turning point in the lives of three of her children. Terric, almost 13 years old, is destined by custom to join the priesthood—despite his fondness for swordplay. Oriana, 16, is ready for marriage to a noble, possibly even Prince Rixin. Marcus, 18 and the oldest of Isolda and Lord Garrion’s children, will be competing in the tournament against the undefeated prince and others, which could cost him his life. As if Isolda isn’t preoccupied enough, she receives a note from Axion Tobias Crane, Terric’s tutor. She leaves Vulture Keep and secretly meets him at the Razortooth Tavern. Within a sinkhole in the floor, he reveals to her “a yellowed corpse dressed in golden armor.” This is the body of Arwin, the one true God. Does this misplaced holy artifact have anything to do with the rot that House Hornbolt has been suffering since the end of the Wizard’s War almost 20 years ago? In this epic fantasy, Hauge (Riddle of Regicide, 2014) and Smoak (The Truth in My Lies, 2018, etc.) excel at rotating through their cast, using third-person chunks to make several small dramas succeed. While Oriana fears that Prince Rixin won’t like her compared with Princess Navya, Terric plans to run away to the northern Huntlands before priesthood descends. Structurally, the narrative is reminiscent of A Game of Thrones, but with less cynicism and brutality. Delightful surprises lurk around most corners, including the thief Bastian (and his squirrel, Nut), who steals Oriana’s heart. In this first volume of a series, the authors whet fan curiosity for distant locales like Arwood Forest and the Isles of Invention. A savage cliffhanger brings everything into sharper focus for the sequel.
An addictive adventure with a familiar framework.