The Wa­ter­borne Blade

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated book -

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.

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