Del Rey, Jan 2003, 23.95, 566 pp.
Before the Age of Mankind, the Stasloi ruled the world. They forced humanity to do their bidding until Genia Dare led the successful revolt that destroyed their former masters. It is now 2,223 years after the defeat of the Skosloc and King William Dare rules Croetheny. Because his son is simple minded, he has named his three daughters as his heirs.
The kingdom is not aware of it but it is tottering on the edge of extinction. The holter of the King's forest sees strange creatures in the woods. People mysteriously murdered without a mark on them. Finally, the Briar King is awakening from his long slumber. There is a plot afoot to kill the king and queen and their three daughters so that the son will be declared the ruler controlled by the puppet master who put this devious plan in motion.
This first novel in a four book series introduces the characters and sets the stage for what is to come. Good men die and heroes fall while men and women are tested for the upcoming battles and intrigues. This is epic fantasy on a grand scale, one that will appeal to fans of Terry Brooks and David Eddings. It will seem like a long wait to readers before the next installment is published in what looks like an electrifying quartet.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner