Warning: This is a gateway book. You may become hooked.
Over the past couple of years I have read this whole, nine-book series and reviewed several of the novels so I come back to the first book with a new perspective. Re-reading it, I was even more impressed at how well it introduces the total work.
Albia, as you would expect in the Epic Fantasy genre, is a carefully thought out and intricately detailed setting. The land, society, politics and magical nature of the several realms involved are truly fantastic in scope and originality. They are populated by a wide range of personalities, both human and otherwise, which naturally conflict with each other.
This introductory novel starts us off in the centre of the Artesans’ universe: the Manor, a military establishment where Sullyan, the queen of all queen bees, draws her minions around her to fight the good fight against the prejudice, hatred and tribalism that keeps people of different types apart. A theme that resounds even more fully in today’s global atmosphere.
The story is mostly seen from the point of view of Taran, a relative outsider, who gives us a more balanced perspective on this emotionally charged, beleaguered group of all-too-human uber-humans. That is, balanced except for his own history, which causes its own conflicts, and he is easily drawn into the situation that faces the Manor. Soon he is entwined in plots that range across the realm and through several different alternate worlds, each with its own inimical race of magical beings.
With this background, it is easy to expect plenty of action, from individual duels with steel and/or magic, all the way up to full battles between beings of different worlds. At the same time the delicate emotional balance that keeps the Manor ticking along on an even keel is constantly upset by personal and political intrigue, including a healthy dollop of romance.
Wonderful characters participating in nonstop action and emotion. Highly addictive. Highly recommended.(5 / 5)