Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

The Immortal Prince by Jennifer Fallon

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The Immortal Prince by Jennifer Fallon
Tor, 2009, 608pp.

A routine hanging has gone wrong in the city of Lebec. The intended victim did not die; in fact, he now claims to be Prince Cayal, one of the twenty-two Tide Lords described in the Tarot. The Duke of Lebec is convinced that the prisoner is either a madman or a spy, and he tasks Arkady, his scholarly wife with discovering which it is. But the longer Arkady speaks with the charming prisoner, the more she worries that he may be telling the truth.

The Immortal Prince is the first volume of Australian author Jennifer Fallon’s Tide Lords tetralogy. While the complete series is out in Australia, the North American release has been slower in coming with the third volume out only this past summer and the fourth still forthcoming. The series is well worth the wait.

The story is set on the world Amyrantha, where magic has given a few individuals almost godlike powers, including immortality. Their magic fluctuates with the influence of the Tide Star. At High Tide, the various immortals play their games of love and war, which always end in cataclysmic disasters for the whole world. At Low Tide, the immortals are at their weakest and go into hiding until the Tide turns. This gives the average humans and the Crasii — a race of half-human, half-animal slaves — a chance to rebuild Amyrantha. Until the Tide Lords start playing their games again.

When The immortal Prince starts, the Tide has been out for centuries, so long that most people assume the Tide Lords are just legends, myths believed by only children and Crasii. Their story is kept only in the cards of the Tide Lord Tarot. But the more Arkady listens to Cayal’s story, the more sense it seems to make. She is in danger of being swept away not only by the story but by the man himself. And as a woman with secrets of her own, that is a risk she cannot take.

The Immortal Prince is an action-filled introduction to an exciting world. Fallon wisely starts small, focusing on the intrigues in a single city on her world. Yet the intrigues in Lebec are linked not only to what is going on in the nation of Glaeba, but what is happening in all of Amyrantha. By the end of the first novel, we know one content of the world quite well, and through Cayal’s talks with Arkady, we know millennia of history too.

Not that the novel is simply a dry history of Amyrantha. We are drawn into the very real drama of Cayal and Arkady, of her husband, Duke Desean and his “close friend,” Jaxyn, of Delan Hawkes, the Spymaster to the King of Glaeba who has loved Arkady from afar since childhood, and of Warlock, the canine Crasii who befriends Arkady in prison. Lovers of adventure-filled fantasy set in a well-developed world should certainly check out the Tide Lords tetralogy, starting with The Immortal Prince.

(Reviewed by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt)

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