The Horsemen’s Gambit
David B. Coe
Tor, Jan 2009, $26.95
The Southlands are populated by three groups who distrust one another. The Oirsi practice a life stealing magic; the Mettai use blood mixed with the earth to cast spells; and the Eandi do not use any form of magic. Over six decades ago a SORCERER’S PLAGUE destroyed a Mettai village; more recently that same plague devastated Kirayde, the hometown of Lici. She vowed vengeance against the Qirisi raiders whom she blamed and succeeded much more than she could have imagined when she interwove the SORCERER’S PLAGUE into baskets.
The Eandi peddlers sell her infected baskets to the unsuspecting Qirsi without relaizing that they are cursing the villagers they leave behind with a nasty death from their in demand product. With many villages eradicated as the epidemic spreads, the survivors believe the Eandi peddlers are killing them as they seem immune to the curse. Meanwhile from the Forelands, Eandi Captain Tirnya Onjaef leads a force south to conquer the stunned Qirsi while Grinsa the Weaver tries to escape incarceration by the Fal’Borna so that he can locate Lici and persuade her to end the plague. There is two problems for him and his allies; first escaping will not be easy and second they are susceptible to the customized lethal disease.
The second book of the Blood of the Southlands is a superb fantasy tale that not only avoids the mid book set up syndrome, but enhances the tension between the clans as each blames the other for their problems. Lici is a bit more off stage this time as her efforts have proven fruitful. Fans will relish this entry for its deep look into the social, political, economic and military interactions between the three distrusting groups; ignorance and racism are the norm with the hostilities turning the Southlands into a large killing field.