cover image Water Horse

Water Horse

Melissa Scott. Candlemark & Gleam, $24.45 trade paper (500p) ISBN 978-1-952456-01-5

Sumptuous storytelling, well-defined characters, and superb attention to detail animate this outstanding epic fantasy from Lambda Literary Award winner Scott (Trouble and Her Friends). The story centers on charismatic King Esclin as he works to protect his lands from a group of invading, puritanical Riders from across the sea. From within the great fortress city of Nen Elin, Esclin wages a war of both arms and wits against the Riders’ ruthless general, Reys en Nevenel, aided by many allies, among them his ex, Alcis, the magical ruler of Westwood; his longtime lover, Kelleiden Smith, who forges Esclin’s weapons; his daughter and heir, Talan, a young but capable warrior; and others, both male and female, who are all smitten with Esclin’s charm and wile. But as they unite to stop the Riders, omens show that it is Esclin himself who will bring the downfall of his realm. Scott crafts an elaborate, rousing narrative of shifting alliances and supernatural intrusions into the natural world while taking the time to establish deep, handsomely delineated relationships and nuanced LGBTQ characters. This is epic fantasy done right. (June)