King’s Envoy: Cas Peace
Beautiful typography and cover art complete this engaging fantasy that draws the reader into a well-fleshed-out other-worldly realm. Or I should say “realms,” as there are five. The book begins innocently enough, with Taran, a young, inexperienced artesan trying to learn his craft, desperate to reach the next level in his training, and willing to do almost anything to achieve his goal. Unfortunately, his efforts nearly kill him and don’t do his friends much good, either. He enters another realm looking for assistance and finds instead a fierce fight, near death, and a magical staff that is nearly his undoing. His misadventures lead him though, to his destiny, which seems to be with the nearby garrison of soldiers, led by the mesmerizing Sullyan. He falls in love with her almost instantly, as does every man except her own superior, General Blaine. Taran and his compatriots, Cal and Rienne, join with Sullyan, Robin and Bull in a quest to discover what this mysterious staff has done and why their land is being systematically invaded by hostile forces from another realm. It turns out there are darker, more evil forces in play that neither Sullyan or any other adept has foreseen.
The author has obviously pondered this series very carefully. Every detail is clearly etched so that the reader becomes fully engaged with the setting as well as the characters. She understands, and with a skillful pen, shares, the politics, intrigues, customs, and traditions of these fantasy worlds, all the while drawing comprehensive character studies of her protagonists. The reader grows to understand the metaphysical abilities certain people are born with, and how they groom & strengthen these abilities until they master and can control Earth, Water, Fire and Air–not an easy task. At the same time we get to know the very human personalities, emotions, weaknesses and loves of our heroes and heroines.
I found little details fascinating: for instance, a magical silver called “spellsilver,” which seems completely innocuous and is used as common silverware for eating, yet has the power to drain the strength of a metaphysical adept, rendering him/her helpless. I was moved by a dream that came to all our heroes simultaneously when their leader was in the gravest danger, waking them all at once, and intrigued by their efforts to find her, and as frustrated as they by their failure. I was also happy to discover a generous helping of humor in King’s Envoy. Good old-fashioned humor lends that little extra to any dramatic fiction.
I requested a copy of King’s Envoy before it was published and so received an advance reader’s copy. I regret I am such a slow reader that I am just now writing my review, but I will say that I read the book deeply and carefully because I was so engrossed.
King’s Envoy is the first of a trilogy. The second book is scheduled for release in August, 2012.