Tor, Feb 16 2010, $24.99
After centuries of relatively peace, the Nameless One is reawakening as the artifact that contains the evil treacherous magician is weakening. Natural enemies like demons, giants, ogres, and even deadlier species have forged under the Nameless One’s leadership as the Desolate Lands unite as never before. The Nameless One’s horde is coming towards Avendoom and beyond the great walled city to the rest of the Kingdom of Siala.
King Stalkon the Ninth gathers the best counterinsurgents he knows starting with master thief Shadow Harold; who is given the choice of torturous incarceration until the enemy comes to kill him or find the lost Magic Horn that will restore the Order. He chooses the quest as Harold knows he lives due to the Nameless One. Joining Harold is Alistan of the King’s Guard, Elfin Lady Miralissa Princess of the House of the Dark Moon, her retinue, and the best fighters Wild Hearts. Finally the monarch stuns Shadow Harold by directing his court jester Kli-Kli the goblin to join the pilgrimage. Outlaw gangs prowl without regard and the advanced parties of the Nameless One seek those who might pose a threat to the resurrection. Each assault on the master thief and his band proves deadlier than the previous one as the enemy or the lawless seem everywhere; but quitting is not option as the darkness expands.
Although the use of a thief as a hero has been done (see Chima's The Demon King and Fortress Draconis by Stackpole), the first tale of The Chronicles of Siala is a super quest fantasy. The travelers make the story line fun to follow starting with Harold finding a dead duke. Fans will enjoy the opening act as the irony is that it takes a thief who never loses his calm to prevent the return of the Nameless One in spite of all the law following choices. This is a winning opening act.