IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!
Published: December 2008
Publisher: Harper Voyager
From out of the East they came riding like a merciless plague—destroying kingdom after kingdom and the sovereigns who had previously mocked the warlord Loethar and his barbarian horde. Now only one land remains unconquered—the largest, richest, and most powerful realm of the Denova Set…
The Valisar royals of Penraven face certain death, for the savage tyrant Loethar covets what they alone possess: the fabled Valisar Enchantment, an irresistible power to coerce, which will belong to Loethar once every Valisar has been slain. But the last hope of the besieged kingdom is being sent in secret from his doomed home, in the company of a single warrior. The future of Penraven now rests on the shoulders of the young Crown Prince Leonel who, though untried and untested in the ways of war, must survive brutality and treachery in order to claim the Valisar throne.
Fiona McIntosh writes adult fantasy that is suitable for YA fantasy readers. In this first book of a trilogy, many of the main characters are in their teens, or younger, and it is very easy to become vested in these characters. There is a lot going on in the story, with several arcs that just seem to fizzle out and go nowhere, but you can bet that they are very important to future books.
By starting out with her characters so young, the reader gets to see some incredible character development throughout the trilogy (I've started #2 and they really have developed). There is one character in particular, Freath, that I alternately wanted to punch and/or hug. He is so complex and multi-layered. Loethar, the bad guy, does something so heinous that I was almost gagging, so those with sensitive stomaches beware, but it is an scene that is integral to his character, and really shows you how low people can go for what they believe.
Royal Exile is set in a world that has been seen before in McIntosh's previous trilogies The Quickening (which is absolutely brilliant by the way) and The Percheron Saga (which is also pretty good), although on a different continent, so the world is already fully developed and very well set up. With twists and turns and plots and counter plots this book is at turns thrilling and mysterious and just sucked me in. As I said, I've already started the second one Tyrant's Blood and it's shaping up to be just as good as the first one.
If you're ready to try some stretch out a bit in your fantasy reading, give this one a try.