Tor, Mar 2002, 27.95, 608 pp.
The Forelands consist of seven dukedoms reporting to a central monarch. The land is sent into turmoil with the deaths of the current king and his heir until the RULES OF ASCENSION prevail with Javan becoming the ruler and his self-centered teenage son Tavin next in line.
As required of the rite of passage of a sixteen-year-old, Tavin visits a Qirsi seer to learn his fate. Instead of glorious royal trappings, Tavin sees a future in chains inside a dark dungeon. Not long afterward, the foretelling occurs as Tavin is incarcerated for murdering his girlfriend based on strong physical evidence that include the means and opportunity. The incident leads to war among the dukedoms. To prove his innocence, save his life, and ultimately the kingdom Tavin reluctantly turns to the Qirsi, but that race is divided between loyalty to the throne and a desire to take the crown.
On the surface RULES OF ASCENSION is a typical sword and sorcery epic adventure set in a feudal land. In actuality, the first novel in David B. Coe's Winds of the Forelands is a fast-paced story line loaded with political intrigue that would have awed the whole line of King Henrys and a conspiracy who-done-it for mystery aficionados. The characters and the land feel genuine so that the audience for accepts the authenticity of the magical abilities of the Qirsi. Fantasy lovers will fully enjoy this tale that can stand alone, but the author has cleverly planted the seed for book two.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner