Wings of the Overlord: Book One of the Chronicles of Floreskand by Morton Faulkner, Knox Robinson Publishing £19.99, Website
Reviewed by Nigel Robert Wilson
Something is amiss in Arion. Yip nef-Dom, the king of Arisa has contrived an insane plan to make him and his army invincible so he can destroy the Three Cities of Lornwater. This plan includes a magical spell involving the blood of the Red Tellars, huge birds that possess a mystical role as the wings of the Overlord, the supreme deity to whom all the many gods of Floreskand are subject.
Yip nef-Dom is supported in this blasphemous work by his seer and alchemist, Por al-Row whose far-seeing ability detects the gradual progress of Ulran, the Master of the Red Tellar Inn found in Marron Square, Lornwater towards Arisa prompted by an intuitive instruction from Scalrin, chief of the Red Tellars. Ulran is accompanied by Fhord Cobora, a psychic who has received a similar telepathic message of trouble in Arion. On their first night of the journey they stop at Lornwater Inn which is beside a lake of dread legend where they opportunely meet Courdour Aloma, an immortal warrior with a particular axe to grind with King Yip nef-Dom. The three set off together on the following morning.
This story has a complex yet well-structured plot presented in a relaxed writing style which easily draws the reader into an alien landscape whose topography, vegetation and inhabitants are described in an almost affectionate detail. There are a number of glossaries at the rear of the book which expand upon these themes for the benefit of those who enjoy such detail.
As our three adventurers continue on their journey they undergo both natural and human disasters: flood, avalanche, assassins and Devastator hordes. The ongoing relationship between the principal characters is explored at some length; the strong, almost mystical presence of Ulran who could win an Iron Man contest without blinking, the superstitious fragility of Fhord Cobora and the destructive violence of Courdour Aloma who is seeking the Navel of the World so he can finally depart in peace. This is complicated by the revelation about a third of the way through the plot that Fhord Cobora is actually female.
Such twists and turns in the presentation of the plot expand the telling of the tale and there are many duly woven into the pattern to enrich and excite the reader. The journey through the Sonalume Mountains has a strong element of authenticity to it, concentrating on the treacherous ice and snow coupled to an intense bitter cold. This seems to derive from an actual experience that must have been quite wretched at the time.
The final denouement by which our now familiar heroes, at great personal risk and cost overthrow the hideous king, Yip nef-Dom and his incestuous mistress and daughter, Iayen is recounted intensely and is quite a page-turner. The body count is high and contains images of great cruelty.
This is quite clearly the first volume of what is intended to be an entire sequence of stories about the world of Floreskand, a very cultivated creation. Enough links have been established within this tale onto which further adventures, deeds and characters can be connected at later times. It is a well-worked story involving swords and sorcery which will have a very direct appeal to those who admire heroism, but who also like to wade through buckets of blood and gore combined with a dash of mystical sentiment added to provide a degree of sweetness to finish off the feast.