The cataclysm began more than a century earlier, when the King of Ayr died before naming an heir to the throne, and damned his realm to chaos. The cold-blooded conspiracies of the Renne and the Wills -- each family desirous of the prize of rule -- would sunder the one kingdom, and spawn generations of hatred and discord. Now Toren Renne, leader of his great and troubled house, dreams of peace -- a valiant desire that has spawned hostility among his kinsmen, and vicious internal plots against his life. In the opposing domain, Elise Wills's desire for freedom is to be crushed, as an unwanted marriage to an ambitious and sinister lord looms large. As always, these machinations of nobles are affecting the everyday lives of the common folk -- and feeding a bonfire of animosity that has now trapped an unsuspecting young Valeman Tam and two fortune-hunting friends from the North in its high, killing flames. But the closer Toren comes to achieving his great goal of uniting two enemy houses, the more treachery flowers.
In the land of Ayr two noble families, the Renne and the Wills, fight for political advantage in this sprawling first volume in a new high fantasy series distinguished by intelligent characters and believable politics. The Renne noblemen set out on a path of treachery, conceiving a plan to murder one of their own at the Westbrook Fair and, by so doing, frame the other family. The Wills plan an equally heinous act; they want to force a spunky young noblewoman to marry a handsome but subjugated prince, in order to produce an heir who'll be their puppet on the throne. Meanwhile, Tam, Fynnol and Baore, three young cousins of supposed peasant background, believing themselves far removed from the politics of the nobles, blithely set out from their sheltered homes in the Vale to make their fortunes. But when they encounter Alaan, a mysterious rogue with a charming demeanor, all their plans go awry. Supernatural forces cause paths and tributaries to mysteriously and unpredictably open, channeling the travelers into unforeseen lands and onto heretofore hidden islands, with hazardous results. Inevitably, all paths lead to the Westbrook Fair. Russell (River Into Darkness) so neatly interweaves the supernatural characters into the story that the magical elements seem an organic part of the history being made. This a perfectly plotted, beautifully written fantasy. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (Feb. 8) Forecast: With rights already sold to Germany and the U.K., for six figures each, as well as a strong blurbs from Stephen Donaldson, Robin Hobb and Janny Wurts, plus a three-city author tour, this novel looks to be on the fantasy fast track. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The One Kingdom by Sean Russell
In the moving landscape only the men were still. They sat at the long table atop Summer's Hill as motionless as stones in a running stream.
Around them the wind was in flight, more joyous than a swallow, as heedless as a child. It swept down onto the new green oats and raked through the hay, making waves and patterns like sand on a riverbed. Gusts bent and swayed the trees, pulling away the spring leaves and spinning them up into the wind-washed sky. But in the center of this the men remained still.
Dease was relieved that he and Samul had prevailed, and the others had agreed to meet here, where the countryside was visible for almost half a league. He didn't want to take the least chance that they would be overheard-it was enough that they had to listen to themselves.
"I would say there is not one among the Wills who can even unhorse him, let alone manage what we need," Samul said ' Samul, who almost never spoke out in the family assemblies, preferring to seed his ideas in the minds of others so that he might watch quietly. Samul the cunning, Dease thought of him.
Beld shifted on his bench. "Toren is so sympathetic to the Wills that I think they should not even want to cause him a bruise, let alone do him harm."
Dease noticed that the others looked a little uncomfortable whenever Beldor spoke. No matter what their feelings in this, no one else hated Toren the way that Beld did. Several were Toren's admirers, in many ways.
"I fear we can't trust to others to do it for us," Samul said softly. "I think the earlier plan the best. We let our cousin win the tournament, as he is likely to do anyway, and then do the deed at night so that it looks like revenge. That would be best. It will see our dear cousin removed from the succession and place the blame clearly on the Wills."
"It will hardly be clear," Dease said, unwilling to hide his distaste for what they planned, "not that it will matter. Everyone is ready to believe the Wills capable of the worst treachery."
"Then that is what we'll do, Cousins," Beld said, sitting back a little on his bench. "I worry only that some might lose their nerve." He looked around the table. "That hard decisions do not come easy to everyone."
"You can name me, Beld," Dease said. "We all know of whom you speak. You're hardly subtle."