THE BASTARD KING: Book One of The Scepter of Mercy

Dan Chernenko, Author . Roc $14.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-451-45914-5

Set in the kingdom of Avornis, Chernenko's debut fantasy uses simple language and straightforward narrative to chronicle the rise of two extraordinary men—Lanius, the bastard son of a king, and Grus, a royal navy captain of humble origin. Due to an irregular succession and his anomalous status, the young Lanius finds his life ruled by a series of regents, including his mother and later Grus, who serves as the more powerful joint king. Meanwhile, Grus has become a general, fighting both the warlike Thervings and the Menteshe, who are vassals of the Banished One. A former God thrown out of heaven by the other Gods, the evil Banished One seeks to subject all to his will. Indirectly in his control is the talisman known as the Scepter of Mercy, once the property of the Avornis kings, which he can't wield but which others could use to defeat him. Each new king of Avornis has pledged to do all he can to get the scepter back, but its powers and appearance are uncertain and it's not until the end that both Lanius and Grus determine to follow through on the pledge, paving the way for future installments. The explicit details of Lanius's sexual coming-of-age should resonate with older young adults. (Mar. 4)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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