The Fifth Sorceress: A Fantasy Novel

The Fifth Sorceress: A Fantasy Novel

by Robert Newcomb

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Overview

In The Fifth Sorceress, Robert Newcomb conjures a time and place wrought with exquisite detail, characters vividly drawn and deeply felt, and a history rich in glory and horror, splendor and secrets. . . .

“We gave them a chance once, long ago. . . . We offered to share power equally, and in peace. But they refused and chose war. With them it was all or nothing. Wizard against Sorceress. Male against female. Light against dark.”

It is more than three centuries since the ravages of a devastating war nearly tore apart the kingdom of Eutracia. In its wake, those who masterminded the bloodshed—a quartet of powerful, conquest-hungry Sorceresses—were sentenced to exile, with return all but impossible and death all but inevitable. Now a land of peace and plenty, protected and guided by a council of immortal wizards, Eutracia is about to crown a new king. And as the coronation approaches, the spirit of celebration fills every heart. Except one.

Prince Tristan is a reluctant monarch-to-be. Though born with the “endowed” blood that will give him the power to master magic, and destined by tradition to succeed his father as ruler, he is a rebel soul. And when he discovers the ancient, hidden caves where strange red waters flow—possessed of their own mysterious magic—it only makes him yearn all the more to escape his future of duty . . . and succumb to the stirrings of enchantment within him.

But more than tradition compels Tristan to ascend the throne. The very existence of Eutracia depends upon it. For after these long centuries of peace, dreadful omens have begun to appear, heralding something too unspeakable to ponder. And if indeed the old evil has returned, hungry to wreak vengeance, Tristan’s role in an ages-old prophecy must be fulfilled—or the cost to his kingdom and his people will be beyond imagination.

It will be a battle like none ever known, against an enemy whose thirst for blood and domination is depthless and unyielding. And for Tristan, it will be the ultimate challenge: facing an adversary whose greatest weapon is the person he loves most—transformed into the instrument of his annihilation . . . and the catalyst that will doom Eutracia forever to darkness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345454768
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/30/2002
Series: The Chronicles of Blood and Stone , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 48,400
File size: 801 KB

About the Author

Robert Newcomb traveled widely in his youth as a member of the American Institute for Foreign Study, studying at the University of Southampton, England, and aboard a university-sponsored ship in the Mediterranean sea. After graduating from Colgate University with a B.A. in economics and a minor in art history, he enjoyed a successful career in business. He lives in Florida with his wife, a neuropsychologist and novelist herself. This is his first novel.

Visit the world of The Fifth Sorceress online at www.fifthsorceress.com.

Read an Excerpt

The Tome shall be read first by a seed of the victors who, years later, shall become the sworn enemy of those same victorious ones. The sire of this seed shall, having abandoned the victor's cause, live as an outcast. The six of the craft who remain shall select one from their midst to lead them in peace for sixteen score and seven years, choosing, in turn, many who shall wear the stone. From the seed of one of those who wear the stone shall come the Chosen One, first preceded by another.

The azure light that accompanies the births of the Chosen Ones shall be the proof of the quality of their blood . . .


--PAGE 478, CHAPTER ONE OF THE VIGORS OF THE TOME


True peace of mind comes only when my heart and actions are aligned with true principles and values. I shall forsake not, to the loss of all material things, my honor and integrity. I shall protect the Paragon above all else, but take no life except in urgent defense of self and others, or without fair warning. I swear to rule always with wisdom and compassion.

The succession oath played over and over again in his head like a
bad nursery rhyme. He couldn't get it out of his mind no matter what
else he thought about. No matter how hard he tried. That was why he
had come this morning to his favorite place.

To be alone in the Hartwick Woods.

He reached behind his right shoulder for another throwing knife,
gripping its handle automatically and smoothly bringing his right arm
up and over in a swift circle, releasing the blade in yet another trajectory.
It twirled unerringly toward the target he had carved in the huge old
oak tree. And as he now stood looking at the blade that lay buried next
to the others he had thrown, he knew that the fact it would accurately
find its mark had been a foregone conclusion.

He had been doing this all morning. His right arm was sore, his
body and face were covered in a light sheen of sweat, and he was dirty
from head to toe.

He didn't care.

He pushed the comma of longish black hair back from his forehead
and ran his hand through it to where it grew long down the back of his
neck. Looking down at his clothes, he suddenly realized just how filthy
he really was. He was wearing what he always wore when he came up
here: the black leather knee boots and trousers, with the simple black
vest that laced in the front across his bare chest. The vest that always allowed
plenty of free arm movement for his practice with the knives.

True peace of mind comes only when your heart and actions are aligned with true principles and values. I shall forsake not, to the loss of all material things . . .

He watched the next knife wheel toward the target, swiftly burying

Prince Tristan the First of the House of Galland, heir apparent to
his father, King Nicholas the First of the kingdom of Eutracia, stood
alone in the woods, practicing with his knives and thinking over what
his future was about to bring. In thirty days he was to become king of
Eutracia, succeeding his father to the throne at the occasion of his father's
abdication ceremony. It always occurred on the thirtieth birthday
of the king's firstborn son, and had been a joyous custom of Eutracia for
over the last three hundred years, ever since the end of the Sorceresses'
War. But there were no more sorceresses in Eutracia to fight, and peace
and prosperity had reigned ever since--in no small part due to the continual
guidance given to the reigning king by the Directorate of Wizards.
But there was just one problem.

He wasn't looking forward to his thirtieth birthday.

And he didn't want to be king.

He also did not wish to be counseled by wizards for the remainder
of his life. No matter how he tried, he just couldn't get the truth of his
feelings out of his head. Nor could he forget the oath that the old ones
would make him take at the ceremony when he succeeded to the
throne. He would then be forced to follow in the footsteps of his father
until his firstborn son turned thirty years old. He sighed. He didn't have
any sons yet.

He didn't even have a wife.

Another throwing knife whistled through the air, clanking into
place alongside its brothers in the battered and gnarled old tree.

Panting lightly, he reached over his shoulder for one more from the
specially designed quiver that lay across his right shoulder blade, but
found it empty. His face sullen, he walked slowly to the oak to recover
his knives. He had chosen this tree because it was the one closest to the
sheer rock face of the cliff, its branches reaching out into space over
the valley. That meant that whenever he missed, his knives would fly
over the steep precipice and be lost forever. Proper punishment for
a bad throw, he thought. And he had been throwing for over three
hours now.

None of them had gone over the side.

Now standing at the very edge of the cliff, he took the time to
wipe the sweat from around his eyes and slowly leaned one arm against
the nearest branch of the tree. He looked down toward Tammerland,
the city of his birth, and to the Sippora River, which snaked
through the city on its way to the Cavalon Delta at the east coast, where
the great river lazily released itself into the Sea of Whispers. Tammerland,
the capital city of Eutracia, lay peacefully along either side of the
Sippora's banks. He could see the royal palace easily from here because
of its strategic placement upon higher ground and because of the
brightly colored flags that flew from its towers and ramparts. And he
could also pick out the markets and squares of the city that surrounded
it. They would be teeming with life this time of day. He smiled, imagining
the mothers and daughters at market, haggling with the vendors
for the ingredients of their families' evening meals. But his smile faded.
His evening meal would be taken as usual with his parents, twin sister,
and brother-in-law in the great dining hall of the palace. He loved them
all very much, but they would be angry with him tonight--and their
criticisms were something he would rather avoid. Perhaps he would take
a simple evening's meal tonight in the kitchen with the staff, as he was
so fond of doing these days. Somehow those people always seemed so
much more real to him.

He had defiantly ignored his requisite daily classes with the wizards
to come here today, and to be alone. They were all probably out looking
for him right now, but they would be wasting their time. This place
was almost impossible to find. He sighed in resignation as he pulled the
knives from the tree. Unstrapping the quiver from around his chest, he
draped it over his left shoulder, replacing the dirks one by one until they
were arranged to his liking.

This art of the knives, at least, was his and his alone. He had designed
the quiver himself, along with the throwing knives. The palace
leathersmith and blacksmith had only been too happy to help the prince
with their construction. The black leather baldric went comfortably
around and under each of his armpits, and the quiver joined to his vest
in the back with a silver buckle, securely holding up to a dozen of the
special throwing knives just behind his right shoulder.

Then had come the hours and hours of practice, which at first had
been very defeating. He had foolishly begun in the military training
yards, in full view of the Royal Guard. He had realized immediately that
this was a mistake, as he had watched so many of his early throws
bounce harmlessly off their target. So, to avoid embarrassment, he had
taken his practice to the woods. That had been seven years ago, and he
had come to the forest virtually every afternoon since, after his daily
classes with the wizards were over. No one had seen him throw a dirk
since that day he left the courtyard, and know one knew the expert that
he had become.

Sometimes instead of just practicing, he walked through the woods
quietly in search of game. Bringing down larger animals was difficult,
and meant a well-thrown head shot was usually needed. It was something
that required even greater skill if the animal was moving, but now
even moving targets had become little challenge for him. The largest
game he had ever killed had been a hugely antlered stag. After killing it
with a single throw to the head, he had neatly quartered the animal in
the woods and given the meat to the townspeople living at the edge of
the forest--the forest that had become his second home.

But his most dangerous quarry had been a large, charging wild
boar. They were prevalent in the Hartwick Woods, and it was not uncommon
to hear of the occasional hunting party that had lost a member
to the awful cloven hooves and sharp, curved tusks before it could be
killed. He had come upon the creature unknowingly, and the kill had
become necessary rather than voluntary. Tristan's boar had stood across
an open field from him, snorting and glaring with enraged eyes. The
prince had remained motionless until the awful thing had begun its
charge. His right arm had then become a curved blur of speed as the
whirling dirk cleaved the boar's skull directly between the eyes, stopping
it dead in its tracks only ten feet from where Tristan held his ground.
He had left the carcass to rot in the field, thankful that he had made a
good throw. He probably wouldn't have gotten another.

Still gazing down at Tammerland, once again leaning against the
outstretched tree branch and lost in his memories, he didn't hear the
thing that came up behind him before it was too late. Without warning,
he was violently pushed forward from behind.

Out into the air and over the cliff.

Instinctively, his right arm wrapped around the tree limb while his
left arm held the quiver to his shoulder. He frantically hung by one arm,
swinging crazily in the air, at least a thousand feet above the valley floor.
He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to shut down the fear, trying
not to look down.

Someone had just tried to kill him, and looking down would be the
completion of a death sentence.

Using his left hand, he placed the quiver strap around his neck. He
was then able to bring both hands to the limb. His strength was beginning
to ebb, but the old limb, at least for the time being, was holding his
weight.

I thank the Afterlife, his terrified mind shouted.

Carefully, one hand after the other, he began to reverse direction on
the limb to face his attacker. As he came around, he wondered if he
would be able to hold on with only his left hand and secure and throw a
dirk with his right at the same time. He would without question kill the
person who was standing there before he swung himself back to the
cliff.

If he could swing himself to the cliff.

As his body came around, he managed to hang on with his left
hand and take a dirk with his right, praying he would be able to throw
it without losing his grip. The limb bending and straining under his
weight, he quickly finished the turn, bringing both his weapon and his
eyes up to kill whoever it was that had tried to murder him.

It was his horse.

Pilgrim, his dappled gray stallion with the white mane and tail,
stood at the edge of the cliff, looking at him with spirited, huge black
eyes. The horse pawed the ground twice with his left front hoof and
snorted softly at him, as if he had already put up with quite enough of
Tristan's foolishness and was more than ready to go back to the stables.
Nudging Tristan from the back had been one of his favorite habits ever
since he was a colt. But this spot had definitely not been the place for it.

Tristan hung in stark terror a thousand feet above the surface of
the valley from a lone tree branch, slowly losing his strength. Carefully
managing to replace the dirk in his quiver and his right hand upon the
branch, he looked tentatively to the left where the limb joined the
trunk, trying to see if it was dried or decayed. He groaned inwardly
when he saw the dry crack, and there was no way to tell if it was strong
enough for what he had planned. He couldn't simply stretch his legs to
the cliff. It was too far away. He would have to swing his body back and
forth to gain the momentum to reach the ledge. It was the only way.
Slowly, his eye on the crack, he began to swing from his arms the same
way he had seen the court acrobats do so many times before, the bark
starting to painfully twist off in his hands. Each time he swung his outstretched
legs a little harder. Each time a little more bark came off in his
now-raw palms. Each time a little more sweat began to flow into his
eyes. And each time he had a little less strength.

The crack split open another inch.

Just two more swings should do it, he prayed. I beg the Afterlife, just
two more.


His release from the branch on the second swing came at the precise
moment the crack split all the way open, the shards of the joint becoming
a twisted, tortured rope of exposed wood. He flew through the air
toward the cliff, his face finally striking the end of Pilgrim's muzzle as
the horse bolted backward in surprise. Tristan went down hard on one
knee, the momentum carrying him over on his back, finally hitting the
back of his head hard upon the ground.

Moments later, dazed, his eyes out of focus and his face strangely
wet, he raised his hand to check his face for blood. There was none. The
twisted and torn tree limb lay innocently upon his lap, and he tossed it to
one side.

He wanted to kiss the ground.

Pilgrim's lips once more nuzzled his master's face. The stallion had
definitely had enough of this and wanted to go home. Tristan sat up,
looking at the impatient Pilgrim, and began to laugh softly, then harder,
finally bursting with the sheer joy of being alive. He laughed at himself
harder still, imagining the looks on the faces of all six wizards of the Directorate
when they realized they had no king to fill the throne at the
abdication ceremony. He still didn't want to be king, but there had to be
an easier way out of it all than this. And in truth he loved to tease them,
but he didn't want to die doing it. At least he had temporarily forgotten
their ridiculous oath.

He slowly stood, wondering if anything was broken, and collected
the scattered dirks. He was all right, but he would be sore for a week.
When he placed his hands to either side of Pilgrim's muzzle, the horse
flinched his head to one side in pain. The stallion's nose would be sore
for a while, also. Served him right. Putting his arms around the horse's
neck and his mouth against the animal's ear, he smiled.

Table of Contents

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Fifth Sorceress (The Chronicles of Blood and Stone #1) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cainch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This may be the single worst book I have ever read: it's so howlingly poor that it's almost funny (almost). I'd give it negative stars if I could. I don't know who is doing the editing at Del Rey, but they could use a trip back to Creative Writing 101. It starts out harmlessly enough: just another Terry Goodkind-ish droning epic (though it's plain from the outset that even Goodkind has it all over this guy in the area of writing mechanics): but after the first chapter, the reader is subjected to a horrible mush of poor grammar and misused words (kids, when writing, always remember to keep a dictionary handy). His logic is hopelessly flawed (how 'simple and symmetrical' could a 3-winged bird be?) and his time lines inconsistent ('Let's see: the fleet needs to reach its goal exactly 30 days from now. The goal is exactly 30 days travel away: so why don't we leave a week from now?') His characters are pathetically weak and constantly wallow in self-pity: yet they also maintain such relentless arrogance that you begin to hope that the whole kingdom sinks under the sea just to make it stop. And don't get me started on the plot. I'm no prude, nor am I easily offended. This book offends my intellegence, though. Newcomb is not the first low-talent writer to simply indulge in an adolescent rape fantasy to generate sales, but this guy doesn't even manage to create prurient interest. Rob, a little advice: read Neil Gaiman's stuff. Read Bradbury, Ursula Leguin, and Zelazny. That's how it's done. And kindly put the $8 I wasted on this trash toward hiring a decent proofreader.
guy-montag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blood. People with special blood. Endowed blood. Plot point. Endowed blood. Endowed blood. Endowed blood. Endowed blood. Endowed blood. Similar plot point. Endowed blood. Endowed blood. You get the idea.It was promising at first, but any author's first novel runs into problems and unfortunately, this novel doesn't overcome them. The ideas and setting are interesting, the characters have potential. But it gets all too repetitive, and the author manages to beat the phrase "endowed blood" well into the dead horse stage and beyond. It gets literally painful to read when the same phrase pops up for the 75th time in *one* *single* *chapter*. In the end, I just stopped reading because of this. I wanted to go on, but... Simplistic plot and narrative structure plus "Endowed blood" repeated to nausea - I just couldn't keep reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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imayb1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In many ways, The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb is a very typical fantasy novel, centering on a well-favored prince who would be king. Disaster strikes on the day his father steps down from the throne. The prince swears revenge (naturally) and the lead court wizard takes the prince under his wing. The magic set-up in this novel is a bit different from the norm, though. I like some of the imaginitive things magic can do in this world. Apparently, it's highly mutable and mutative. A person's magic ability is dependent upon qualities of the blood. Magic as a tool can be used for good (practiced mostly by men) or evil (practised mostly by women) but the prince is prophesied as the one who can unite both aspects of magic in neutrality. Well, he has a lot to do. It's obvious to me that the prince's woes and the woes of his kingdom cannot be solved in one book.The writing is good. The author gets a bit carried away trying to describe human suffering and his ideas of "evil" aren't really the same as my own, but the story is quite enjoyable.
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thegash More than 1 year ago
This series is very well written. I enjoyed it very much. The series hasn't been finished yet and it has been 3 years since the last book has been published don't know if it will be completed. I am looking forward to the ending regardless of how long it takes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many people have said they did not like the book but I enjoyed it and have read the next two. Does he write as good as Terry Goodkind, no. But for me, still a good read. I have just strated his 4th book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harder to choke down than rotten eggs. This is by far the most poorly written prose I have read in a long, time. Far better fare on the market (Farland, Russell, Cornwell, Jones, Martin, etc). DO NOT waste your time on this. ..unless you want to see how horrible writing can be picked up and marketed by a glitzy publishing campaign with shill-review writers on sites like this. This sucker is best used as a boat-anchor rather than a book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The number of reviewers here claiming that this book is well-written confirms my belief that this country's educational system has gone completely to pot. Let's put aside for the moment the derivative plot. Put aside the infantile sexual stereo-typing. Put aside the relentless arrogance and self-pitying introspection by the characters whom you are supposed to admire/identify with. Put aside the howling logical errors (a 'symetrical' three-winged lark, Tristan mentioning death enchantments, only to be 'stunned' at hearing Wig mention them just TWO pages later). Where was the editor who was supposed to read this book prior to publication? The author fails to display better than rudimentary skills in the area of writing mechanics. He beats you to death with certain words (if I ever read the term 'endowed' again, I'm going to scream) and certain phrases ('Tristan was stunned at what he next saw'; 'What Tristan next saw would remain with him for ever'; 'Tristan's mind reeled at what he beheld'). He constantly misuses words. He takes everything to the superlative, and overwhelms the reader with adjectives/adverbs. Sentence structure is unvarying, paragraph structure is unvarying, and his working vocabulary isn't broad enough to give his writing a fresh, interesting tone. It's like being locked in a room for a week and having Rosanne Barr read limericks at you. I know that this isn't supposed to be literature, but when you are marketing a book as a great epic and charging people a not-inconsiderable price for it, I feel that the reader is, at the least, entitled to a casual nod toward quality from the publisher. Since being introduced to it through Asimov and Anne McCaffery 20+ years ago, it has always been my opinion that as a genre (or two) SF/Fantasy has generally maintained a higher standard in the area of basic writing quality than other entertainment genres (mystery, suspense, romance, etc.). The pomp and hype with which this book was released makes it a sharp and obvious break from that standard. Even with all of its other glaring flaws it could have provided a few hours of simple, mindless entertainment had the folks at Del Rey done their jobs and reviewed 'Sorcoress' before sending it to press.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best book's that is have read in a very long time. It had a lot of different creatures and charecters, and I love the fact that is was on a different planet and not on earth for once. It had a good moral story line. A brother's love for his sister to take on the world to get her back is breathtaking. He takes on 4 Sorceresses: Kluge Captain of the minion army, and the minion army to get her back and win, In the mean time is battling on the concept of being king. But then he make's the choice. I will buy The Gates of Dawn in June. For all you hard core sci-fi people read this book. You will love it!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
So many pieces of this book were taken from wonderful stories written by real authors and transformed into a tasteless and unimaginitive waste of shelf space. I drudged through it as my sweetie attempted to get me the perfect book for Christmas but I've never been so happy to be finished reading a book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Can't believe how disappointed I was in the Fifth Sorceress. Talk about a book that hates women, this is it. Eevil for evil's sake alone in fantasy works if there is a reason for its existence. There no justification, rhyme or reason for the actions of the evil in this book. Too bad, book was well written otherwise, but a valid underlying reason for the evil in this series was a glaring hole that destroyed it for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book expecting some epic fantasy. I felt that many of the idea's have been used before and that made the book seem unoriginal. The biggest issue I see with the book is that it is just boring. It doesn¿t convince the reader. I didn¿t have feelings for many of the main characters. I didn¿t care if they lived or died. Beyond that though there was a few exciting parts, barely enough to keep interest. I feel that most of the book was rushed. Overall all these elements made this book mediocre. The book could¿ve been so much greater if more time was spent on it¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the imagery displayed throughout the entire book. The situations were original and inspiring, and I absolutely fell in love with the Coven. I couldn't put down the book and I even cried numorous times. It drew me in instantly, and I devoured it in a matter of days. I recommend this to anyone and everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really like this book it keeps you on your toes and make you hunger for whats next and keeps the imagination going and now I can't wate to read the next one I'm very curious to find out what happens afterward!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Newcomb set up quite an interesting world easily pulling me into the place and, therefore, the story. It did remind me of the stories of Terry Brooks and Goodkind, but he has managed to be different enough. The only drawback was the division between men and women of blood. I'm anxious to see if he ends this division as the story progresses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Listen to Korn and Disturbed Like movies such as American Pie and Road Trip enjoy this book. Mature audience only bah, thats what all the good cd's and some of the good movies say it goes the same 4 books too I guess.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, I generally do not read reviews of a book before I read the book - I prefer to make my own decision as to whether the book is good or not. Because I do not read the reviews I do not write reviews - EVER. However, In this case I must make an exception. I was excited about the release of this book and made the mistake of reading the reviews on this website. Undaunted by these criticisms I read the book anyway. After reading many of the negative reviews I was surprised to learn that this novel is a good read. Yes, it is a first novel. And yes I think that shows at times. This book is not equal to Goodkind or Jordan. But I must pose the Question, are many books of that caliber? No! This book is not the greatest book ever written but it is not bad either. I must disagree with those reviewers who gave it one star. I have read many horrible fantasy books, there are certainly many of them out there, but this is not one of them. The main complaint about the current crop of fantasy is that the authors are unoriginal. Mr. Newcomb's book has many new concepts, while also sticking to some of the basic fantasy story lines. So what if the females are the villians in this book? Would the same outcry be raised if the villians were males? All in all, this is a fine book. I look forward to the next title in the series - where the villian appears to be a MALE! - and I think if you read it, with an open mind, you will like it also!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was amazed by this book... Wonderful characters great new world. What a great way to start out with a first book reminds me of the writing style of Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind (my all time favorite) I sat down to read and finished in 1 night I could not put it down it is that good of a read. Get this book all you will enjoy it!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, some good things where done in it, but overall, it was somewhat lacking. Too many ideas that just did not go anywhere. To much unfinished character developments or characters who where introduced for no real purpose other than to fill up a couple more pages. Too much time spent in idle plot lines and not enough development of the true theme. It just left me wanting, not in the sense of I wnat to know what happens next, but I want to know why I read this one. It is almost as if the author wanted to write a trilogy but then condensed it into one long, ill-thought novel, edited down in all the wrong places. I will probably pick up the next installment, just to see where it goes and how the author introduces new plot lines, sense wery few of the important or interesting ones are left at the end of the first book, but I will wait for it to come out in paperback. As I recommend you do with this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was EXCELLENT. I couldn't put it down. I read it in one night from cover to cover. Similar to Robert Jordan's Wheel of time series and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth, this novel is attention-getting from page 1. There are a lot of questions that get answered (I'm not going to tell) that keep you reading just to find out what's going on. The action is excellent and the plot is great. For a first time out, this author is one to WATCH.