Dave Duncan,
Children of Chaos
(Tor, 2006)

Fifteen years ago, the savage Vigaelians descended on the peaceful, fertile land of Florengia. When their army reached the city-state of Celebre, the doge rode forth with his family as required, intending to give over his eldest son as a hostage for his good behavior. But the leader of the Vigaelian horde, in contravention of holy writ, took all four of Doge Piero's children, and their mother to boot, since the youngest was still nursing.

Now Doge Piero's health is failing. His children have been raised in Vigaelia, separated from one another -- Fabia, the youngest, isn't even aware that she has three older brothers. But with the invasion failing, one of the doge's children must be installed as a puppet ruler in Celebre. The others ... well, the others will no longer be of use to the Vigaelians.

Dave Duncan has a knack for telling an engaging story; each of the siblings faces his or her own trials and tests, especially the youngest son who wants only to be a Vigaelian warrior, even though his masters do not trust him. Each child is claimed by a deity, witchcraft abounds and not everyone is what they seem. Despite the varying plot threads, it's a fast-paced story that is truly enjoyable.

Children of Chaos is the first book of a duology. Just don't try to puzzle out how the world Dodec -- which is not round like our own, but dodecahedral -- works. Each face of the dodecahedron represents another country, so Vigaelia and Florengia are different faces of the dodecahedron. Duncan promises that there is an explanation for this at the end of the next volume. Here's hoping that it will be forthcoming soon.

by Laurie Thayer
4 November 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.