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This complex trilogy opener, YA author Freeman's first book for adults, describes the Eleven Domains, a landscape littered with prophecies, gods and ghostly warnings. Saker, a wealthy and callous enchanter's apprentice, seeks to avenge his family's massacre. Bramble, gifted with a connection to animals and woodcraft, kills a warlord's man in self-defense and must flee her home. Nervous young guard Ash trains to become an assassin and endures his beloved mentor's exploitation of his necromantic abilities. When Saker's vengeance-seeking walking dead roam the land, Ash must find ways to stop them as Bramble seeks to protect the people they threaten. Freeman shies away from simplistic morality, building elegantly well-rounded characters-most notably Bramble, who manages to be tough but not hard, a loner but not unsympathetic and sexual but not obsessed with romance-and interwoven stories that at times draw too heavily on George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels for inspiration. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.