The Waterborne Blade
Always leave them wanting more
Release Date: 7 May
432 pages | Paperback/ ebook Author: Susan Murray Publisher: Angry Robot
So many traditional
fantasies start with a hero, generally male, of humble beginnings, learning of their real destiny and leaving the farm life behind, that it’s refreshing to find one that starts with a highborn queen and unashamedly makes her the centre of proceedings. There’s a rougharound- the- edges soldier who’s pledged to protect her, of course, but he’s not the real star of this show.
With an army on the way and traitors all around, King Tresilian sends his wife Alwenna and their unborn child off to safety with loyal King’s Man Ranald Weaver. She’s wary of this strange, sullen soldier, and Weaver has his own secrets and feelings for the queen. But with the capital about to fall to Tresilian’s cousin Varis, it’s Alwenna’s heritage and dormant psychic powers that are the meat of the story here.
This is a well- paced, enjoyable read with characters that feel rounded and real, changing and evolving as the book goes on. And while it struggles with action scenes, it’s in the scheming of courts and cousins, childhood spats and splintering marriages that the writing shines. Unfortunately, after all that plotting and intrigue, with tantalising hints of more secrets to be revealed, you’ll have to wait until the sequel ( due this summer) for any real resolution. That’s not unusual, but it does mean you’ll finish the book unsatisfied. Rhian Drinkwater This is Murray’s debut novel; she met both her agent and editor during one- to- one pitch sessions at York’s Festival of Writing.