From Unseen Fire: The Aven Cycle, Book 1

Cass Morris. DAW, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1224-1
If there’s an overlap in fandoms for I, Claudius and Game of Thrones, Morris’s painfully old-fashioned debut is aiming there. In Aven, seat of a quasi-Roman empire, word of the dictator Ocella’s demise is spreading, and those who have awaited this opportunity begin jockeying for position. Candidates include Rabirus, a calculating soldier-lackey aligned with the dictator; Latona, a well-born mage and Ocella’s unwilling mistress; Sempronius, an exiled politician and secret mage with ambitions; and Ekialde, an Iberian tribal leader preparing for war against the Avenian overlords. After the adrenaline punch of the opening assassination, the book is dominated by the ruminations, posturing, and gossip of a large, well-realized cast. By the time the machinations are briefly interrupted by a riot, it’s clear that Morris’s projected trilogy is going to stick to an old-school formula of patriarchy, lighter-skinned imperators enslaving darker-skinned barbarians, and legitimated, systemic violence, much of it against women and children. Adding magic changes nothing in the equation. This competently written political intrigue could have emerged from a time capsule sealed in 1950. Agent: Connor Goldsmith, Fuse Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 04/17/2018
Genre: Fiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-4989-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-7564-1517-4
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