The River King's Road
Gallery Books, (Pocket), Mar 9 2010, $26.00
Once Oakharn and Langmyr were provinces of the same empire, but when the empire collapsed, both became kingdoms on opposite sides of the Seivern River. War has been a constant between the two countries with many dying on both sides. Sir Galefrid of Bull’s March in Oakharn travels with his wife and infant son to Willowfield in Langmyr hoping to broker a peace. While they attend church, they and the locals are attacked; the only survivors of the atrocity are the infant Winston, son of Galefrid and brother to Leferic. The mercenary knight Brys Tarnell takes care of Winston until he can get him to safety.
The massacre is just the beginning as a red mist appears in the village killing everyone. Brys knows it is a Thorn’s doing. A Thorn is a maimed witch, acruel sadistic killer; void of human feelings. What he is ignorant of is that Galefred’s acrimonious brother Leferic, coveting power, made a deal with evil. Leferic is now the lord, but learns Winston lives; he makes another deal with the devil to eliminate the heir. Brys and peasant woman Odosse seek a safe place for the baby as Leferic’s hired Thorn gives chase. Every step is dangerous as Leferic needs Winston dead.
This is a delightful epic fantasy that will remind readers of the movie Willow in a Terry Brooks’ early Shannon saga. The good guys and gals are likable and admirable as they sacrifice their safety to keep the infant safe. A key element is that the audience will understand Leferic whose sibling rivalry and jealousy has turned him into a sociopath with ambition and willingness to cut any Faustian deal to achieve his goal of power. Although more infant issues would have been a terrific addition, fans will root for the mercenary, the peasant and the baby as they try to stay alive.