Till Noever,
(Edge, 2004)

In the land of Keaen, the ruler (called the Keaen) is allowed to have any young woman he wants. Of the many children that he is expected to father, only two -- one son and one daughter -- come to the Keaen's palace. This is part of the Covenant by which Keaen is governed. Armist, the young Keaen, and Tahlia, his sister, are closer than normal for the Keaen's children, but custom will soon separate them; Armist is required to begin training to become Keaen himself and Tahlia is expected to wed.

However, neither scion of the House of Keaen is willing to submit to the demands of the Covenant, and so they flee the castle, headed north for the neighboring country of Tergan, little thinking how much the Terganese might like to get their hands on Keaen's heirs. During their flight, they learn that not everything they have been taught is true and that the commoners who are governed by the Covenant are not necessarily happy about it. Eventually, they realize that the only responsible thing for them to do is to shoulder their duties under the Covenant -- but not necessarily in the way that was originally meant.

Keaen is a somewhat convoluted novel, as any novel involving politics seems to be. Armist and Tahlia's story intertwines with other, lesser storylines, including that of their friend Caitlan, the Keaen's weaponsmaster. There is a great deal of action in the story; at times it feels like reading about the individual ants in a recently kicked over anthill, with everyone scurrying this way and that, giving the novel quite a frantic pace with very few pauses for breath.

Perhaps because of the pacing, the plot doesn't feel quite as tight as it might be, as though the manuscript might have needed one more once over just to make a few adjustments here and there. Some loose ends in the secondary storyline may point to a sequel.

Keaen is not by any means a bad novel and I did enjoy the story. It just needs a little something more.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 5 March 2005

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