I don't compare books to Tolkien. He is the best. The Lord of the Rings.... often imitated never duplicated. That said, this is the best fantasy novel I've read since then.
This story takes place in a land called the River Realm. This country is divided into many provinces all around a great and branching river, and those provinces contain both metropolis cities and smaller villages. Our hero Eamon, comes from one of those villages.
Eamon is 23 years old, and he has one goal: to be a member of the River Realm's elite fighting force, the Gauntlet. When this story begins he is a cadet at a military college, learning to serve his land's Master. His dream is to become one of the Master's official Hands.
Eamon will not be swayed from this course until the night he must help execute a dear friend. This friend's crime was disloyalty to the Master, the friend claimed to serve a truer King.
Now Eamon can feel two forces drawing on his strength, two calls summoning him, two kingdoms vying for his fealty.
Will he answer to Eamon, or Eben's Son? Will he pursue the power of the Master's red flame, or seek the purity of the Wayfarer's blue light?
Oh, the tension is high in this story. And it's wonderful and weaves a strong spell. The scenes of nobility stirred my heart and the scenes of horror made my skin crawl.
The first half was adventure and warfare, the second half explored more of Eamon's internal crises, his ambitions and cravings.
I loved Eamon and hated him over and over. His hunger and thirst for righteousness were as real as his moral bankruptcy. One moment he remembered who he really was, and the next he listened to the lying whisper. He was clean and brave, and he was wretched and despairing.
The characters in this story are vulnerable and they break easily, but they also mend.
Anna Thayer has written a story that authentically wrestles with big themes. They flow naturally through this fantastic story.
So... is there another book coming? Yes! I'm glad to report there is. The Broken Blade and The King's Hand. Is there enough story here to fill three four hundred page books? Yes! The history of the River Realm, and Eamon's own history, are unfloded in his visions and prove that there is plenty left to reveal.
Thank you Kregel for my review copy.