This fast-paced fantasy opens a generation after a devastating civil war. The Witchlanders are ruled by witches/sorcerers who brutally drove the Baen to barren lands. The arrival of an enemy is foretold by Witchlander Ryder’s mother. She instructs Ryder to head into the mountains where he meets a young Baen prince, Falpian. They are sworn enemies, yet they depend upon each other for their survival. Their history has been twisted and distorted over many years – are they truly enemies or are they meant to live in harmony?
The author has packed a lot of story into this book. A series of prequels could be written to fill in the volatile history of the land. At first, I felt the absence of character background as a missing element in the book, but I came to appreciate it. It takes time to understand Ryder and Falpian. The author divulges their past in bits and pieces. That’s fine. It works. I like how pages are not wasted on minutiae. Ryder heads out to find the Baen (Falpian) at the end of one chapter. He arrives nearly dead and frozen, at the beginning of the next chapter. The author could have dragged out his journey in detail, but it isn’t an integral part of the story, so why waste words? I like that. The author succeeds in building an interesting world that I hope to visit again in future books.