Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The River King's Road by Liane Merciel

The River King's Road is Liane Merciel's debut novel, and it is a welcome addition to the fantasy world.  He has created a world that quickly draws the reader in and takes over their life. 

For generations, two lands, separated by a river, have been at war.  The soldiers of Oakharn and Langmyr periodically have crossed the river and performed atrocities, the hate between the countries their only fuel.  Now the stakes have been raised.  The heir of Oakharn and his entire family and the entire village where he was staying have been destroyed.  Bloodmist has been used to decimate the entire village, and that means a Thorn and her magic are involved.

One soldier and one village woman escape.  The knight, Brys Tarnell, had declined to go to the chapel with the rest.  The girl, Odosse, was in the forest with her toddler.  Brys and Odosse discover the king's son with his nursemaid, who dies while they watch.  They are left to try to save the heir's life and to get him back to his land.

Along the way they encounter more of the evil of the Thorn and her traveling companions.  She has the ability to reanimate men and animals to serve her pleasure, and few can survive an encounter with her.  Two that attempt to put an end to her are wandering SunBlessed knights.  Kelland is a Blessed, and can cure those who need it, but is also a warrior.  His companion is Bitharn, a female archer.  They prepare for battle against the Thorn and her magic that can doom an entire land.

This is a fascinating start to a new epic fantasy.  The characters are well fleshed out, and each is an intriguing mixture of good and evil, not cardboard figures with only one trait.  Readers who close the book will be filled with anticipation for the next volume in the story.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers and will not disappoint.