Review by Karen Stevens
The peaceful land of Shaihen is under threat of conquest by larger, more aggressive neighbours while raiders are crossing the borders in increasing numbers. In an attempt to secure peace, Rainur, the king of Shaihen, marries Cathva an’ Zelt, daughter of the Caiivorian Emperor – a move which divides the tribal chiefs of Shaihen. When Caras, heir to the Chiefdom of the Arheios, and his friend the wild horsemaster Kierce arrive at the capital for the wedding, Kierce is chosen as the heir to the Lord High Magician. As the Shaihen feel the weight of the Empire’s demands, Kierce’s affair with Cathva leads to Raimur’s death and the fracturing of the Shaihen unity while the rogue Caiivorian raiders, the as-caii, bring war to the land. Caras has to take up the mantle of the warrior and defend his land while Kierce must recover the Staff of Power or the brutal as-caii will conquer the land.
The Shaihen Heritage Duology is a solid, well-written tale; the characters are realistic (not always likeable) three dimensional people with all the flaws and talents of real people while the political manoeuvring and the battle scenes are likewise believable.
My main problem is that as this is such a familiar scenario in fantasy a book has to be really special to stand out and while I enjoyed reading them, I don’t feel these books have the spark that makes them a must-read. My second gripe is the price. £25 is a lot of money for two books, particularly when the same amount could buy the latest fantasy doorstop trilogy. If these books come down in price it might be worth checking them out, but as it is it’s hard not to feel short-changed.
Shaihen Heritage, Book 1: Cloak of Magic and Book 2: Staff of Power, by S.A. Rule, £12.99, published by Bright Pen and Vanguard Press respectively.