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The Covenant Rising
by Stan Nicholls

Category: Fiction / Fantasy
0 pages; ISBN: 0060738898

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

The Covenant Rising
Stan Nicholls
Eos, Jan 2005, $14.95, 416 pp.
ISBN: 0060738898

Bhealfa is a caste society in which magic defines status. Authorities use spells to keep the masses in line and watch everyone through all-seeing scythe bowls. While the eccentric Prince Melyobar and his retinue sail in his movable dwelling to avoid Death, the Gath Tampoor Empire uses the Bhealfa citizenry as it has for twenty years as sword and sorcery fodder in its war with the Rintarah Empire, the previous conquerors and wasters of Bhealfa populace.

Reeth Caldason seeks magical relief from the curse he suffers from that turns him into a blood raging mass killer if not chained, but learns the wizard he seeks is dead. The wizard’s apprentice Kutch Pirathon mentions the Covenant, which gives the beleaguered Reeth a sliver of hope. Another visitor Dulian Karr, paying respect to the deceased, wants to liberate Bhealfa from the two empires that rotate subjugation; he suggests that Kutch and Reeth team up as they seek the same requirement, a master mage. The epic adventure for freedom has begun.

In many ways THE COVENANT RISING is a typical epic fantasy, but is also much more. The story line contains the usual sword and sorcery elements throughout, but Stan Nicholls blends them into an intriguing societal arrangement sort of like India’s caste society within a magically based Orwellian 1984. Reeth and Kutch are terrific protagonists with neither trusting the other though needing one another if they are to gain their wish. The freeing of incarcerated female military captain Serrah Ardacris, whose imprisonment adds to the feel of a real society, increases the unease of the “alliance” between this dynamic dual. Thought provoking, Mr. Nicholls furbishes a terrific opening tale in his Dreamtime trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

 

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