I'm a bit behind on reviews. Sorry about that. I am trying to catch up as I can.
Blood of Ambrose by James Enge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Twelve year old Lathmar VII is heir to the Empire of Ontil. Standing in his way is his Lord Protector and uncle, Urdhven, who wants the throne for himself. Urdhven has killed Lathmar's parents and many of the royal household, and Lathmar knows his own days are numbered. He is rescued by his ancestress, Ambrosia Viviana and her brother, Morlock Ambrosius. Together with Morlock's apprentice, the dwarf Wyrtheorn, they must not only defeat Urdhven, but also the dark magic force behind him to restore Lathmar to his place.
I found this a very interesting book. It has some plot twists and turns that keep the story moving along and kept me reading, but the real fascination is in the characters. On the surface, the story is Lathmar's coming of age, and he does grow in many ways by the end. It is also in large part, Morlock's story, even though much of what we learn about the one known as The Crooked Man is through flashbacks. It is not a bright, happy story for the most part. There is a definite somber edge that permeates the entire book. Oddly, despite that, there is a lot of humor there, as well. The exchanges between Morlock and Wyrtheorn are especially amusing, as is the almost constant affectionate sibling bickering between Morlock and Ambrosia. Even Lathmar seems to have a healthy dose of his family's dry, cutting humor.
The magic system is well drawn, and the world building is good. The style of the prose is crisp and dry, but reads quite well. The omniscient point of view can be a bit hard to get used to, and I found it leaving a slightly disconnected feeling as I read, but it does work well for this story. There are hints at Arthurian legend sprinkled throughout. There are some very intriguing details in here: a screaming, flying horse and a mechanical spider, to name two. And crows- murders of crows that are used by Morlock as messengers and spies. All in all, a good story that kept me interested and eager to read to the end.
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