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River into Darkness by Sean Russell

Review by Alleandra

Book 1: Beneath the Vaulted Hills
Book 2: Compass of the Soul

This duology is actually a prequel to his earlier Moontide and Magic series, and of course, takes place in the same world. The main country is Farrland, and the setting of the story is not the usual medieval sort. This world has made some more modern progress then most fantasy worlds, and can be pre-Victorian like in some ways. Magic is dwindling, and only one Mage remains; the infamous and somewhat sinister Lord Eldrich.

Erasmus Flattery is a 30 year old intellect who is making a name for himself in the Society of Empirical Studies. A young neighbor of his, whose family has fallen on hard financial times, is being sought by several strange groups of people and when chance leads him to Erasmus, he asks him for help. The young man, Samuel Hayes, had been hired along with a friend, to research a very odd incident that occurred some 60 years previously, and little did he know it would lead him into great danger. The only thing to do is to try and discover the mystery behind the events, and find out why they are being covered up.

Of course, discovering the truth behind the mystery embroils both in even more danger, and ties them to some unlikely partners. But against them all stands the last Mage, the one who, when Erasmus was a young boy, fostered him in his home.

This series is a nice departure from standard fantasy on one level, however it really fails to deliver. A lot of the action could have been condensed; I say action, but really mean dialogue. So much is told to the reader, instead of the reader learning on their own, and that is not a tactic that I usually enjoy. The characters are none of them too interesting, and some are fairly annoying. The action in both books picks up towards the end. After book 1 was finished, I was looking forward to it maintaining the momentum that concluded book 1, but this didnít happen. In all, an okay series, written by an author who can certainly deliver much better. And actually, his subsequent The One Kingdom series is so far more fitting to his potential.

Grade: 3.75

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