Sunday 23 October 2022

A Prince's Errand (Tales of the Amulet Book 1)

AuthorsDan & Robert Zangari
eBook Publisher: LOK Publishing
eBook Date: December 2019
First Published: 2019
Pages: 961
Cover Artist: Kerem Beyit

This time it's the turn of the main story in the Legends of Kalda series, Tales of the Amulet. The first book in this series is called A Prince's Errand, also written by father and son writing partnership of Dan and Robert Zangari.

As I said in my previous post, although this novel was published bfore the prequel The Prisoner of Tardalim, I had already decided to read it after that book. The story is set in exactly the same world as it's prequel, the world of Kalda, with only a few decades (I assume as its never actually defined) having past. The main character in the prequel, Amendal Aramien, is present in A Prince's Errand but only in the peripheral sense, being a wizened old mage that others refer to occasionally. 

Due to the span of time that has elapsed, the number of magic weilders and the number of magical items, called 'tevisrals' is not as prevalent in this time period. The world of Kalda is starting to slowly forget about mythical creatures and historical facts are becoming myths told by parents to their children. The world is still at war, with many nations engaging in espionage and trickery to gain an advantage over thier enemies. The land of Soroth is still on friendly terms with the vastly wealthier nation of Mindolarn, but that alliance is strained as a number of Mindolarnian Emporers are being assassinated at a rather alarming rate.

The death of the latest Emporer is witnessed by Prince Kaescis Midivar and his sister. The Prince swears to avenge his family and maintain his empire's standing by searching the world for information and secrets of the Keepers of Truth and Might, a long forgetton order of beings who protected the world from harm.

Also seeking information about the location of the same mysterious sect is Sorothian scholar Krindal. He has discovered a wonderous tevisral that pinpoints the hidden sanctuaries of the Keepers across Kalda, and with the aid of Prince Midivar, enlists the aid of his school of magic in Soroth to finance a number of ships to travel to the lost island of Klindala. Klindala is where the tevisral indicates the next sanctuary of the Keepers can be found - but that island has been ravaged by turmoil and otherworldly cataclysms for years. A difficult journey lies ahead of them, and they will need experienced mercenaries to aid them in their quest.

The most famous adventurer in Soroth is an aging warrior called Cornar Dol'shir. His band of adventurers have travelled across the world for many years amassing fame and fortune like no others. Despite his attempts to remain in retirement, Cornar's band are enlisted to accompany Krindal and the Mindolarnian Prince in the journey to Krindala and beyond.

Cornar's most loyal friend, the mage Iltar, is also happy in his current ways, training the dwindling number of young people who are to become the new generation of mages for Soroth. But he is also drawn unwittingly into the mystery of the Keepers as he begins to experience strange dreams where he meets an aged version of himself in a dopple-ganger world of Kalda, but one where the skies and oceans are a strange colour, and nobody else seems to exist. Iltar is soon using his own youthful disciples to try and research the land of Vabenack, a strange order known as The Crimson Eye and a long-hidden prophecy foretelling the return of being known as the Unspoken One.

What can I say about A Prince's Errand? Wow, it was fabulous. This book definitley grips you and never lets go for a second. Everything about it is wonderful; the characters, the locations, the action, the plot and the way it is all told really impressed me. It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy book like this. It was such a great experience reading it - I felt totally engaged with each and every character and each of their motivations.

I honestly can't fault the story-telling on show here. The Zangari's really hit the ball out the park with this one. The amount of world-building on show here is staggering, there are layers upon lyers upon layers of it. But never did the history of the world of Kalda feel overwhelming. The novel lets you in slowly but surely, and all the time the plot just keeps getting better and better.

There are quite a few characters, but I honestly cannot say I ever got confused about what was going on between all of them. The story splits itself across two main groups of characters, and even as I flipped between them I never got lost.

Sometimes, when I've read fantasy fiction that has a split in parties or groups - there has tended to have been one of them that is far more intresting to read than the other. But that doesn't happen here with A Prince's Errand; both plotlines are fascinating and I never felt shortchanged or keen to get back to one or the other.

Interspersed between the main story are a number vignettes featuring secondary characters, or plots that may become more evident later in the book or series of books.  These were very good and added immensely to the grand scale of the Tale of the Amulet. (This feature was also used to good effect by the writers in The Prisoner of Tardalim - I just ddn't mention it in my review).

This book is one of the best new crop of fantasy fiction books I've read in a while. I would even go to say that it's revived my faith in modern fantasy writing - as I can't say I'd been impressed in the last few years with all the new stuff coming out. It comes very highly recommended indeed. The second book in this series is titled The Dark Necromancer, and is due to be published in eBook form in December 2022. So you don't have long to jump on the bandwagon - go buy ths book!*

EDIT: You really do not have to read the prequel to enjy this novel - just saying.

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