KINGâ€™S ENVOY by Cas Peace, Published by Rhemalda Publishing (www.rhemalda.com), p/b, $8.99
Reviewed by Karen Stevens
Taran Elijah is an Artesan, one of the rare individuals who can wield control over the four elements, but after his fatherâ€™s death he has been unable to find a teacher to advance his talent with the craft. Desperate to learn more, he opens a portal to the Andaryon realm and after being tricked into a vicious duel he accidently kills an Andaryon noble and barely manages to escape back to Albia with his life, and a weapon of frightening power. In the wake of his actions the Andaryons launch vicious raids in the realm and Taran and his friends are forced to travel to the nearby garrison and speak to major Sullyan, who is responsible for stopping these raids. But there is a dark plot underlying events, and it may be beyond their abilities to stop.
Kingâ€™s Envoy is the first book in the Artesans of Albia series (Iâ€™m assuming a trilogy). The focus of the novel is squarely on the half dozen or so many characters – there may be a war in the near future, but the book deals with events at a personal level rather than being a mammoth epic with a cast of thousands. Itâ€™s a fairly standard high fantasy tale, with the ideas about the portals that can be raised between five different realms and the elemental magic gives it a slightly unusual twist. I hope that as the series continues weâ€™re going to see more of these other realms; only the Andaryon realm has so far been mentioned in any detail, and it would be nice to see how the other realms and races compare.
The book is well written with likeable characters and an enjoyable plot that moves along at a rapid pace. The only problem with this book is that itâ€™s in a crowded field and though good by its own merits I feel it doesnâ€™t have the spark needed to lift it above the crowd; if youâ€™ve read any high fantasy, youâ€™ve undoubtedly read something very similar to this already. On the other hand, if youâ€™re unfamiliar with this branch of fantasy you could do worse than to check it out.