To Ride Hell's Chasm

To Ride Hell's Chasm

Book - 2004
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An epic fantasy stand-alone novel from the author of the stunning Wars of Light and Shadow series: When Princess Anja fails to appear at her betrothal banquet, the tiny, peaceful kingdom of Sessalie is plunged into intrigue. Two warriors are charged with recovering the distraught king's beloved daughter. Taskin, Commander of the Royal Guard, whose icy competence and impressive life-term as the Crown's right-hand man command the kingdom's deep-seated respect; and Mykkael, the rough-hewn newcomer who has won the post of Captain of the Garrison-a scarred veteran with a deadly record of field warfare, whose 'interesting' background and foreign breeding are held in contempt by court society. As the princess's trail vanishes outside the citadel's gates, anxiety and tension escalate. Mykkael's investigations lead him to a radical explanation for the mystery, but he finds himself under suspicion from the court factions. Will Commander Taskin's famous fair-mindedness be enough to unravel the truth behind the garrison captain's dramatic theory: that the resourceful, high-spirited princess was not taken by force, but fled the palace to escape a demonic evil?
Publisher: Atlanta, GA : Meisha Merlin Publishing, Inc., 2004, c2002
ISBN: 9781592220236
1592220231
Branch Call Number: WUR
FAN WUR
Characteristics: 672 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm

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Ubalstecha
Mar 19, 2011

Mykkael is an outsider in the kingdom of Sessalie. He won his position of Captain of the Garrison through a stunning victory in a tourney, but that doesn't mean he is trusted by the general populace. His skin colour points him out as different to everyone around him. His refusal to play politics only serves to grind his rise above his station into the faces of the minor nobility. Yet, he is supremely competent in his job and has earned the respect of his superior and the king.

Then Princess Anja disappears right before her betrothal banquet. Mykkael, along with the rest of the city guard, is charged with her recovery. But Mykkael sees sorcery at work, and given that he is an outsider, he is the most likely suspect. Now he must fulfill his pledge to the king and find the princess while keeping one step ahead of those who would lock him up for being the guilty party. And let's not forget those who would stop him before he uncovers their plans.

Author Janny Wurts has written an exploration of race set in a traditional high fantasy world. She explores what it means to be different in a suspicious society. This book could have easily been about a Muslim special forces member post 9-11 or a Japanese cop in WWII San Francisco. And this is the strength of the book. Through Mikkael's eyes we see the slights and insults, the constant questioning of his abilities. And it makes the reader uncomfortable.

But it is also Mikkael that is the weakness of the story. He is the archetypical action hero, able to continue after most people would have succumbed to injury and exhaustion. He is the only one that has the protective marks that, paired with his first hand experience of fighting sorcerers that can ward off the impeding black magic empire. And that gets a little tired after awhile, especially in a book of this length.

Still, the second half of this book flies by as Wurts ramps up the action. Worth the time.

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