A queen has been deposed, and she is quite ticked about it. Unleashing a swarm of man-eating insects, she intends the city of Al-Zora to fall. In steps the Princess E’feena. She is dedicated to saving the city, but she can’t do it alone. She enlists the help of the great swordsman Alcar. They in turn are ‘assisted’ (or perhaps hindered) by thief and alchemist Jzemlek. Together, they must find and lay claim to an ancient book of powerful magic. However, this magic may unleash something worse than large man-eating insects; it may unleash the Thol-ra!
While this was a short story, or novella, there was plenty packed in to it. I quite enjoyed each of the 3 main characters. They each arrived fully developed and went on to kick butt or get in the way or save the world. There was plenty of swords and sorcery in this novel, which kept the level action high throughout the book. I also liked that it was told in a almost epic story style instead of a pulp fiction style.
E’feena wasn’t simply a princess with a plan, a plan that involved warriors or magic users doing all the heavy lifting. Nope! She jumped right in and got dirty, taking care of business. I really liked this aspect to her, as I believe even princesses have jobs to do, especially if they want to save a city under siege.
Jzemlek was undeniably the fool and comic relieve. At first, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his character, but after some buffoonery, I grew to like him. Alcar was a the straight man. I could just see him rolling his eyes at Jzemlek throughout the tale.
The quest itself was well done. It wasn’t simple for E’feena to get her hands on the magic book, and even then, she had to make a big decision about whether or not to use it. The ending was most satisfying.
Narration: Matt Franklin did a good job on the narration. The story was told in the 3rd person, like a bard reciting a tale during a long dinner. He had a good range of voices for the various characters, both male and female.