The comfortable world of Martris Drayke, second son of King Bricen of Margolan, is shattered when his older half-brother, Jared, and Jared¿s dark mage, Foor Arontala, kill the king and seize the throne. Tris is the only surviving member of the royal family aside from Jared the traitor. Tris flees with three friends: Soterius, captain of the guard; Carroway, the court¿s master bard; and Harrtuck, a member of the royal guard. Tris harbors a deep secret. In a land where spirits walk openly and influence the affairs of the living, he suspects he may be the mage heir to the power of his grandmother, Bava K¿aa, once the greatest sorceress of her age. Such magic would make Tris a Summoner, the rarest of magic gifts, capable of arbitrating between the living and the dead.
Although my expectations where high when I first heard about this book, as Necromancers are one of my favorite character types, I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be. I have to admit that yes, I was hoping this was a rare gem of a book that lives up to my expectations but, although it was not, it wasn't that bad a disappointment.
The book starts off well enough with murder at the palace and the escape of Tris and his friends. His quest to get to his uncle's lands takes up most of the book and are what, IMO, made it interesting as their journey is plagued with great dangers. It was fast paced enough to keep the reader entertained. In fact, it was not until they get to where they are going, almost at the end of the book, that the pace slows down and the novel loses interest. This is where we have some rather cliche moments, such as Tris having to fight with a ghost for an ancient sword or the fact that a character, merely pages old and a little too conveniently, turns out to be related to the one person they were going to see.
The problem is that the writer doesn't know what to do with the characters once they reach their first destination where Tris is supposed to get trained as a mage. We spend over half the book having fun as we follow their adventures and then the action gets bogged down in the last few pages as there is too much still to say and not enough room to say it in. It's almost over and Tris doesn't have any sort of training or control of his powers. All of a sudden and with the help of the Sorceress we find out that he knew a lot of magic all along but his grandmother, the great Summoner of her time, had repressed this knowledge until "the right time" else it cost him his life. He had to come of age and then be in danger before the magic kicked in, so to speak. A little too convenient way to get Tris to learn a lot in what little pages where left. To be sure he has a long way to go and anyone expecting an all out battle between good and evil will be highly disappointed. This book is obviously the first in the series and the ending clearly tells you so. Tris and his friends still have to learn to use their powers, gather an army and then they may be ready to face the villain.
Since most of the book was spent on the journey I rather enjoyed the book and I think it's pretty good for a first effort and as a beginning of a series. It does have a lot of room for improvement and I can't wait which way Gail goes with this. The next book in the series will be out on January 2008.
A 3.5 out of 5.