Sunday, January 08, 2006

The One Kingdom - by Sean Russell

The One Kingdom is the first book in The Swans' War trilogy, a fantasy tale of adventure, political upheaval and family rivalries...

While a group of Renné lords are plotting the assassination of their cousin at the upcoming Westbrook fair, three young men from the Vale of Lakes set out on a journey down the river for a chance of some adventure and to make their fortune. When they cross paths with a stranger called Alaan they suddenly find themselves embroiled in the power games of the great houses and running for their lives.

When the Lady Elise Wills finds out that she is to betrothed to the son of the Prince of Innes, which will further her evil uncle's plans to bring about a war to decide who sits on the throne, she escapes down the river posing as a minstrel. But far older powers are afoot with darker plans of their own and when the lads from the Vale and Elise meet up on the river, their fates become inextricably entwined and they find themselves both heading for the Westbrook fair, where things will get much more interesting.

Fantasy series are pretty much standard fare these days and I tend to be reading several at once. You know what I mean, you read volume one from one series then volume one from another as volume two from the first isn't out yet and so on until you have a several on the go all at once. Anyway, I'm trying to cut down on this a bit but I'd bought this some time ago and thought I'd better get started on it.

To be honest, at first I was a bit worried that it wasn't going to be very good as the writing seemed a little amateurish, a bit overly descriptive and flowery, but it soon settles into a decent tale with enough to catch your interest and keep you wanting to read on. The plot revolves around the river, which has it's own magical properties and hidden branches, and slowly draws the two main storylines of the three Vale lads and Elise together until they both end up at the fair just as the conspiracy hatched at the start comes to fruition. However, there's more to it than this as there are older powers at work, again tied to the river, so it's not as simple as it would appear. Even the boys have an unknown history that should prove interesting later on.

It's not the greatest work of fantasy I've ever read but it is worth getting into and I'll definitely be getting book two, The Isle Of Battle.

Genre: Action Adventure, Fantasy
ISBN: 1-84149-088-1
My Rating: 7/10

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