Be honest--do you find the legion of new fantasy epics a tad daunting? Even the most devoted voyager into strange and exotic fantasy universes has to choose carefully these days, such is the multiplicity of sagas on offer. So it is highly refreshing to encounter a tale as good as Tower of the King's Daughter, the first book in Chaz Brenchley's Outremer sequence. This is fantasy exactly as it should be: ambitious, highly coloured and supremely confident in its grip on the reader's attention. The Kingdom of Outremer is settling down from its bloody inauguration some 40 years ago, with sinister enemies making those on the borders nervous. The Kingdom's conscience (and most loyal defender) is The Society of Ransom, and the Ransomer's remote border stronghold of Roq de Rancon is a place of ancient magic. Marron has recently entered the brotherhood and sworn allegiance, while Julianne, daughter of the King's Shadow, is en route to her wedding in Elessi along with Elisande, her mysterious companion. All three will play a significant role in the cataclysmic events about to overtake Outremer.
From its first confident chapter through amazing set pieces such as a confrontation with a monstrous presence in a cave, Brenchley's grasp of his colourful narrative never falters, and his descriptive powers are exemplary:
She pushed her hand slowly into the liquid light, without causing the least eddy in its run. The tingling feeling moved up to her elbow as gold washed over it, she lost sight of her hand altogether, and still her fingers clutched at nothing--until something clutched at them. Julianne screamed. Not a hand that held hers, nothing so human: more like a rope it felt, a hot rope. Or a snake, or a tendril of some grasping plant. Something flexible that wrapped itself tightly around her hand and wrist. --Barry Forshaw