Janny Wurts, |
To Ride Hell's Chasm
(Voyager, 2002; Meisha Merlin, 2004)
Right from the outset, Janny Wurts intrigues her readers with the multi-lingual, psychically aware hero of this story: the scarred, foreign warrior Mykkael, who is Captain of the Garrison of the Royal Court of Sessalie. He is held in certain contempt by court society due to his dark foreign colour and his history of involvement in the wars of Rathtet. These wars opened the earth as a conduit for demonic powers, so evil was the magic that infused the battles, and Mykkael was entrusted with the safety of the daughter of the royal prince, hiding her deep within another realm, far from the murderous influence of the sorcerers who seek to extinguish the bloodline with her death.
Having successfully hidden a royal lady, he is now pledged by the King of Sessalie to find his daughter, Princess Anja. Her disappearance on the day of her betrothal banquet to the handsome Prince of Devall has left her father and fiance distraught and the people bewildered, for this was not merely political expediency, but a marriage of true love.
Sessalie is a kingdom ignorant of sorcery, unacquainted with magic or demonic powers, yet Mykkael is convinced that Anja was not kidnapped, believing instead that she voluntarily fled the court in an attempt to escape some deadly evil. His views are not shared by the other warrior charged with finding the princess, Commander Taskin, who is known as a fair-minded man, but is already out of his depth should Mykkael's theory prove sound.
Janny Wurts weaves a fast-paced and enthralling tale, laden with emotion -- horror, fear, sadness, determination, love and bravery. Your heart will race, you will hold your breath in suspense and you may even be moved to tears -- have tissues handy! She creates such complex and solidly believable characters, such fantastic trials and situations, such visually clear places that she absorbs you into the story, a participant, not a mere bystander, and her book becomes an epic movie of the mind.
I loved her novel, Sorcerer's Legacy and her skilled contributions to the Empire trilogy of Raymond Fiest's Midkemia series, but she lost my interest during the first of her Wars of Light & Shadow books. To Ride Hell's Chasm held me spellbound and had me looking at its end for more.