Sunday, August 28, 2005

Southern Fire - Juliet E McKenna

Juliet E McKenna’s Southern Fire is the first book in a series of a four, "The Aldabreshin Compass". It is set in the same world as the "Tales of Einarinn" series, this time in the Aldabreshin Archipelago where much of the story of McKenna’s second novel, The Swordsman’s Oath took place, but further to the south than we have ventured before. In Southern Fire, Daish Kheda, the warlord of the Daish domain, finds himself facing the worst possible foes, wildmen encouraged by magic-wielders. Such wizards are unknown in the southern reaches of the Archipelago, so far from the wizard-infested unbroken lands that lie close to the northern domains. The wizard-led savages have come out of the southern ocean, where no one believed anything existed, and Daish, as near neighbour to the beset Chazen domain, finds himself compelled to find some way of fighting back against the magic. He heads north across the Archipelago until he reaches the domain of Shek Khul, where he learns that Khul had been forced to deal with northern magic some three years earlier (as detailed in The Swordsman’s Oath). Shek Khul gives him a paste that is known to inhibit the powers of wizards and advises him to locate a man named Dev, whom Khul believes to be involved with wizardry, if he is not a barbarian wizard himself. Kheda manages to locate Dev, with the aid of Rhisala, a poet from the Shek domain, who is far more than she seems. Together they persuade Dev to assist them in dealing with the southern threat to the Archipelago, but having seen off the last of the wildmen, and killed off their wizard leaders, Kheda finds himself rejected by his first wife because of his involvement with magic; she encourages him to become warlord of the Chazen domain, after the sudden death of Chazen Saril from food poisoning. Janne Daish is not a woman to be argued with when she sets her mind to something, and so Daish Kheda unexpectedly finds himself obliged to turn his back on his three wives and their children, to take up the role of Chazen Kheda instead. Little does Kheda know, however, that he has not seen the last of the wildmen and wizards of the south...

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