I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading lately, so I have two book reviews: Rules of Ascension and Seeds of Betrayal, books 1 and 2 of the Winds of the Forelands tetralogy by David B. Coe. These promise to be the beginning of a very good epic fantasy.
Rules of Ascension begins slowly, braiding worldbuilding with seemingly unconnected tragic incidents. But after a couple chapters, it’s revealed these incidents were the catalyst and the first tentative steps of a fledgling conspiracy and the story takes off.
900 years prior, the Forelands were invaded by the Qirsi, a race of short-lived sorcerers distinguished by their white hair and skin. However, they are betrayed by one of their own and are themselves conquered.
In the present day of the novel, it is customary for the Qirsi to use their magic in the employ of noble houses as advisors or in traveling faires as “gleaners,” those who foretell the future. But there are some Qirsi who aren’t content with their place in Eandi (human) society.
As the title of the first novel suggests, the plot revolves around the ascension of a new king to the throne of Eibithar, one of the seven kingdoms of the Forelands. The rules regarding how and who is chosen are unusual and complicated – and they are being manipulated.
Javan, Duke of Curgh, is next in line to the throne, but when his son, Tavis, is accused of murder, that no longer seems certain as he and his men are detained and Tavis imprisoned.
Tavis escapes with the aid of Grinsa, a Qirsi “gleaner” (one who foretells the future), who believes Tavis is innocent.
Aindreas, Duke of Kentigern, is blinded by his grief and seeks justice for his murdered daughter. His actions set off a chain of events which could lead to civil war.
While I’m not a huge fan of a many-multiple point-of-view story (Rules has 20 POV characters!), I got sucked into this one by the well-drawn characters. Some could easily have become caricatures, but instead had depth. I love a story with characters who are neither all good nor all evil. As an added bonus, the series does appear to have an end at five books (Thank you, Mr. Coe!).
I won’t spoil it by telling you who actually is crowned king near the end. It’s not exactly a secret, but it’s somewhat unexpected and sets up events for the next book.
Seeds of Betrayal deals with the consequences of the events that occurred in the previous book and gives a clearer picture of what is at stake.
We get a deeper look at the leader of the conspiracy and the inner workings of his organization.
Some Eandi are learning that the Qirsi conspiracy is not just rumor, but fact. Others refuse to believe.
The conspiracy places Qirsi advisors in the position where they are forced to prove their loyalty to their noble employers.
The Eandi are divided. The Qirsi are divided. Deep-seated prejudices and shifting loyalties set events in motion and war seems certain. I’m interested in seeing how Mr. Coe works out the different threads of his story and look forward to reading the rest of this series.
Have you read these novels? If you did, what did you think of them? Have you read another of David B. Coe’s novels? You can find his novels at Amazon here.