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Review by Liara
From the back cover: Ages ago, sorcerers of unmatched power sundered a world into four realms -- sky, stone, fire, and water -- then vanished. Over time, magicians learned to work spells only in their own realms and forgot the others. Now only the few who have survived the Labyrinth and crossed the Death Gate know of the presence of all four realms -- and even they have yet to unravel the mysteries of their severed world...
This book takes place in Arianus, the Realm of Sky. In some ways it is a very standard fantasy setting: humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, and wizards. Yet in other ways, the world, or should I say the realm, is quite unique. I found the back history of the sundered realms, which is revealed a little at a time, to be the most interesting part of the book.
Not too many. There is Hugh the Hand, a human assassin, young Prince Bane, also human, and his klutzy servant Alfred, Limbeck, a (overly?) curious dwarf, and the mysterious Haplo, whom you'll have to find out about for yourself. All I'll say is he's cool, and so is his dog.
Relations between the races are not good, the main issue being the water supply. War between elves and humans could hinge on Hugh's next killing. Limbeck's people, working tirelessly on an immense machine, are starting to see that their world is not all it appears to be. Meanwhile, in the background, other forces are at work, and an ancient power struggle may begin again...
(Okay, so that was a rather cheesy rephrasing of the jacket text...Oh well *g*)
I found this an enjoyable read. The characters and the world were engaging, though Bane got on my nerves occasionally. I'm told that Haplo gets a larger role in the next books, which I am looking forward to. I would like to know more about the Sundering of the Realms and other things that happened pre-this book. One thing I found odd, though not in a bad way, was the humor in the book. The weird thing was that it tried to be serious and funny both. Sure, there are other books that do this, but most tilt a lot more to one side or the other. The juxtaposition of the two took some getting used to, but it didn't really bother me. Overall, not a fantastic book, but a pretty good one. 3.75 amulets.
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