The nation of Vallon is a place of peace and prosperity and has been for generations. Yes, there are random bandit attacks and political maneuvering between noble rivals, but King Rufus Nybright IV is a wise leader, and with the aid of Guard Captain Jotham Windiin, keeps his army sharp and quick to respond with arms or diplomacy. Of late there have been disturbing incidents and rumors of the return of the Darkling magicians, who carry terrifying and vile magics. They had previously ravaged the land and its people before finally being destroyed, or at least the kingdom hoped all had been destroyed. A cautious King with a strong right arm in his Captain, investigations are done and rumors listened to with sharp ears.
In time, his lovely wife, Queen Kia, gives birth to twin boys. It is a difficult delivery, and the one who should have been born first and become heir to the throne, was instead born last as his brother was surgically removed from his mother’s body. Shandor, the heir, was fair and energetic, and Lycien, dark and thoughtful. The boys grow fast and with Captain Windiin, a master swordsman, as their mentor, they grow skilled not only in statesmanship, but in fighting.
And then comes the terrible day when during a hunt Lycien is lost. It seems to portend the beginning of the end of the days of peace and prosperity for the kingdom. Greedy nobles conspire against the King, leading to war and devastation. But the worse has not even begun. The Darkling magic has returned and those who weld it are the greatest betrayal of all.
Although Black Pawn is a storyline that has been done dozens of times before, R. Scott Mitchell has performed his own magic and retold it in a fresh and vibrant way. He is a master of setting the scene so that the progression flows smoothly and the reader is surprised to find they have arrived at a place different than where they started. The book is a gentle ride, with tensions slowly building until a culmination that grabs one by the throat. I do not normally use analogies, but the book is like a slow simmering pot of soup, with ingredients gradually added so that the texture changes until it has all come together. The surprises do indeed surprise and the wonderful taste lingers long after the meal is done. Black Pawn is the first book in the series and I am very anxious to read the next.
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Lachesis Publishing (April 8, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1897370571
- ISBN-13: 978-1897370575
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