cover image Seven Princes

Seven Princes

John R. Fultz. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (600p) ISBN 978-0-316-18786-2

In his debut novel, Fultz attempts to marry the scope of doorstop fantasy with the lush language of Clark Ashton Smith, but he never quite achieves either. When an unkillable necromancer murders the king of Yaskatha and usurps his throne, young Prince D'zan flees, seeking allies in the neighboring kingdoms. Along the way, D'zan loses his mentor but learns the power of the sword he carries; he becomes friends with many of his noble peers but is betrayed by cardboard villain Prince Fangodrel of New Udurum and his sorcerous grandmother. As Fangodrel's power grows, the allied kingdoms are thrown into disarray by a series of gruesome magical attacks. Fultz's focus on the very big picture leads to undeveloped characters and events, and D'zan's growth from feckless boy to resolute warrior occurs largely in the ellipses between scenes. (Jan.)