cover image THE ISLE OF BATTLE: Book Two of the Swans' War

THE ISLE OF BATTLE: Book Two of the Swans' War

Sean Russell, . . Eos, $25.95 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97490-0

In this enjoyable follow-up to the well-received first book in the Swans' War series, The One Kingdom (2001), Canadian author Russell (River into Darkness) offers more superior high fantasy, with a large cast of fully developed and carefully observed characters, many familiar from volume one. In order to escape a forced marriage, Lady Elise Wills has merged with the dark river spirit, Sianon, to the dismay of her intended, Prince Michael of Innes. With the three Valemen—Tam, Fynnol and Baore—she sets out to find the mysterious wanderer, Alaan, whom she hopes will help to reconcile her to her new powers and to defeat her enemy, the dark knight Hafydd. In his own quest for Alaan, Hafydd is not above using treachery, sorcery and guile to achieve his sinister goals. As the action ebbs and flows around the known lands of the Kingdom of Ayr as well as the hidden magical lands, the author explores traditional themes of good and evil, though not everything is strictly black and white. Just as all paths led to Westbrook Fair in the previous book, so do all the principals come together at the Isle of Battle, with the fate of the warring Renné and Wills clans hanging in the balance. Despite the many disparate story threads, the narrative flows easily, building in intensity from a firm steady pace to a powerful climax that will keep the reader happily waiting for the next installment of this classically composed fantasy. Agent, Howard Morhaim. Author tour. (Aug. 3)