Title: The River Kings' Road
Author: Liane Merciel
Publication Date: March 9,2010
Hardcover: 400 pages
From the Publisher:
The wounded maidservant thrust the knotted blankets at him; instinctively, Brys stepped forward and caught the bundle before it fell. Then he glimpsed what lay inside and nearly dropped it himself.
There was a baby in the blankets. A baby with a tear-swollen face red and round as a midsummer plum. A baby he knew, even without seeing the lacquered medallion tucked into the swaddling—a medallion far too heavy, on a chain far too cold for an infant who had not yet seen a year.
A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road . . . Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge . . . Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies . . . Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing . . . and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all. . . .
This novel truly surprised me, I was quite literally mesmerised from the first sentence to the very last word and now find myself anxiously awaiting the next novel in the series.
The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel is a brilliantly written debut novel and will grab the reader's attention from the very beginning of this story of one baby, heir to the throne, and his control of the destiny of two kingdoms. This intricately woven tale begins in 1217, a time when the lands of Oakharn and Langmyr were in a delicate balance of peace. Traveling to Willowfield in Langmyr territory, Sir Galefrid, his wife, and infant son are slaughtered during chapel. None were armed, being inside the chapel and on a peace mission, so no one was prepared. One of the King's company was not in church, Brys Tarnell, the only known survivor to have seen the work of the Thorn. Prior to departing, a dying maidservant hands him a bundle containing Sir Galefrid's infant son, Wistan Galefring of Bull's Run, heir to the throne. Brys takes the baby with him as he flees Willowfield; Bryn happens across Odosse, a young mother who was out gathering for the day and escaped dying with the rest of her village. She agrees to travel with Byrs as Wistan's nursemaid. She immediately notices a difference between her son Aubry and Wistan and demands they seek a healer. To do so, Brys must bring her and her son to Tarne Crossing, a village in Oakharn, where she is the enemy. Back in Langmyr, Kelland, a Knight of the Sun and his dear friend Bitharn are in Thistlestone for the Swordsday contest when Lady Isavela Inguilar and her husband Lord Eduin request an appearance with them. The Lord and Lady requested the two to find out what happened at Willowfield, as they did not order it and they do not want the peace between the kingdoms to end. Kelland, being a Knight of the Sun is truth-bound, so regardless of what he discovers, all will know it is the truth. Finally, back in Oakharn, is Leferic, Galefrid's brother, the one who ordered the massacre so that he could rule Oakharn. He is working with Thornlady Severine to find the missing baby, heir to the thrown. With all the key players in position, Merciel writes a most brilliant adventure of love, peril, treachery, magic, and hope. The River Kings' Road is a fantastically delightful novel that commands the reader's attention from the very beginning and holds the readers attention with the life of an heir apparent as well as a nation in the hands of just a few people. A long history of hatred has existed between the kingdoms of Langmyr and Oakhorn, but will they be able to work together, keep the peace and fight against a common enemy or do old wounds, injured pride and prejudice bring down the kingdoms? To find the answers to these questions and many more, one must read The River Kings' Road, be prepared to be unable to put this novel down.
About the Author:
Liane Merciel spent most of her childhood bouncing around the world as an Army brat. She has lived in Alaska, Germany, and Korea, and has gone camping in every one of the fifty states. Her hobbies include yoga, training rats, and baking cupcakes capable of sending the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man into sugar shock with one bite. Currently she lives and practices law in Philadelphia.
I received a complimentary copy of The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel from Simon & Schuster as part of the tour. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.