The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.
With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.
In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King’s Envoy.
Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.
As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?
Strap in for this twisted fantasy road trip from award-winning author Justin Lee Anderson.
The kingdom of Eidyn has just emerged from a devastating war. Thousands are dead, demons still roam the countryside, Reivers lurk in the wilds, and plague is spreading in the south. They didn’t quite win the war either, having merely trapped Mynygogg, a draoidh with demon summoning and necromancy skills, within Dun Eidyn. A detailed, but not obtrusive history and strong focus on social and political aspects all add depth to a world with distinct Celtic influences.
Aranok, King’s Envoy and the first draoidh to receive such a title, is tasked with restoring an exiled queen to her throne in a move that King Janaeus hopes will win Eidyn a grateful ally. This mission chafes Aranok, who feels his skills would be better utilised in dealing with a demon laying waste to the crops in Eidyn’s agricultural heartland, or aiding a major city besieged by plague. He’s prepared to bend his orders to help the public, but not all his companions share the sentiment. This causes interesting group dynamics as these strangers bond, bicker, and battle together on the road. All the characters have nuanced, convincing personalities but Samily is my clear favourite. I loved the series of awkward conversations that reveal her asexuality and her straightforward, black or white, get the job done attitude. Her absolute indomitability in battle is pretty awesome too.
This novel is all about the side quests and although that can make it feel a little ponderous at times, every encounter yields important information. Aranok and his companions unearth several mysterious anomalies on their travels that lead in to a twist so unexpected that the only thing I can compare it to is that time a horse threw me into a river.
Book provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review