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Heir of Autumn    by Giles Carwyn & Todd Fahnestock order for
Heir of Autumn
by Giles Carwyn
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It's always exciting to enter a fantasy world that's fresh and innovative, as is the case with Heir of Autumn. The authors paint a picture of the Free City of Ohndarien ('Jewel of the Known World'), surrounded by despotic rulers, and with the seeds of its own destruction already germinating within it. In the northern Vastness, a great power is held quiescent by generations of tribeswomen, who turn the handle of a fragile music box to keep a babe asleep - if the child wakes, a horrific evil will be unleashed upon the world.

Ohndarien has been ruled since its inception by the Children of the Seasons, who must submit to perilous testing by the Heartstone before coming into power. Thirteen years before the story opens, several Brothers disappeared on a mysterious mission into the Vastness, leaving the city weakened. Surprisingly, an outsider named Krellis, who came as an invader, has been accepted by the Heartstone and into the heart of Baelandra, Sister of Autumn. His son Trent is the best friend of Brophy, Bae's nephew and Heir of Autumn.

Desperate for his father's rare approval, Trent proves weak and reckless, though Brophy believes he is good at heart and follows his lead, often foolishly. This leads to disaster for both of them, and to Brophy's banishment from the city. Helped by Baelandra's spy Scythe, who has always loved her, Brophy ends up in the city of Physen, ruled by Krellis's brother Phandir. There, he becomes a protégé (and more) of Queen Ossamyr, who persuades him to enter the Nine Squares gladiatorial games - winning would earn him great influence in this country that is planning to invade Ohndarien.

Brophy's friend Shara has come far from her roots as a hog butcher's daughter to study Zelani magic, whose power comes from the control of passion and arousal. Shara has hesitated to take the final step - to pass through the Fifth Gate under the direction of cruel-eyed Zelani Master Victeris. When she does so, she suffers greatly before gaining control of her own powers and soul. Other key players include the Ambassador from Ohohhim and his wife, who is only meek on the surface. They come in search of information for their all powerful Emperor, and Krellis seeks an alliance.

The authors tie all these plot threads together into a gripping story with a thrilling conclusion, in which Brophy comes up with an outside the box solution to halt the devastation of his beloved city, and stop the unleashing of ultimate evil upon the world. I sincerely hope this was only the first in a series.

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