David B. Coe,
Rules of Ascension
(Tor, 2002)

David B. Coe has released a must-have book for fans of fantasy. Rules of Ascension is the first book out of a four-part series called Winds of the Forelands. This epic is written in a style that is sure to captivate most, if not all, readers of this genre. Coe has a way with the written word that brings both the characters and the action to life.

The Forelands consist of seven countries, one of which is known as Eibithar. Eibithar's king is selected from among the higher-ranked dukedoms through a complicated system known as the Rules of Ascension. These rules ensure that all the houses share in both the glory and responsibility of ruling the kingdom. For hundreds of years, this method of selection has worked, more or less. Until now.

About 900 years ago, the Forelands were invaded by a race of physically weak, yet magically powerful people. The Qirsi generally develop one or perhaps two talents in the areas of controlling wind, fire or mists, gleaning the future, and for some very powerful ones, shaping matter. For the average Qirsi, the use of their powers sucked their very life-force from their bodies slowly killing them a tiny bit each use. In fact, the average Qirsi did not live much past 40, if they made it that far at all. Qirsi "weavers," however, not only possessed all the aforementioned powers, but did not seem to suffer from the life-draining side-effect that the average Qirsi experienced. It was the weavers who led the Qirsi in their invasion of the Forelands.

While the Qirsi invasion ultimately failed, weavers executed and the Qirsi people dispersed throughout the land, the few remaining survivors managed to remain a part, albeit despised, of life in the Forelands. Now, 900 years later, the Qirsi have managed to become advisers to every court in the land. While most Qirsi have acclimated to life as second-class citizens, some have not. A secret faction has set in motion a plan to set the kingdoms of the Forelands on the path to war. This plan starts in Eibithar.

With the current king on his deathbed, the Rules of Ascension decree that the Duke of Curgh shall take his place. When his son, Tavis, is accused of murdering the daughter of another duke, the kingdom begins to slide towards civil war. The boy was found beside the girl with her blood on his own knife. The boy is known for his temper when he drinks. Everything points to his guilt, despite his protest of innocence. Will the houses of Eibithar go to war? Will the Qirsi conspiracy work in bringing their people to power? You have just over 600 pages to read if you want to find out.

Coe, who lives in Sewanne, Tenn., has a Ph.D. in history and is working on the next book in the series, Seeds of Betrayal. He also wrote the LonTobyn Chronicles.

The hardcover of Rules of Ascension is just over 600 pages. The story is well written. I found the characters engaging and the action scenes rather gripping. While I highly recommend buying the book, if you are anything like me, I'm going to recommend, at the same time, that you do not read the story. At least, not yet. I, for one, will be tortured as I wait for the release of Seeds of Betrayal. I feel the same way about this book as I do towards The Two Towers to be released in theaters December 2002 and The Return of the King a year later. How am I supposed to wait that long!??! Heed my warning if you can. But buy this book.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 9 November 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.