The One Kingdom

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Vale of Lakes where they live is peaceful and boring, so when Tam and his two friends venture outside hunting for artifacts, they hope for a bit of adventure as well. The very first night, camped at the ruins of Telanon Bridge, armed men attack in the dark. Escaping only because Alaan, a traveler they’ve just met, holds off the attackers at the cost of his own life (or so they believe), they find more traps as they go downriver. Battered by the Wynnd’s unpredictable waters and lost in its unmapped byways, they are followed by a supernatural entity as well as the relentless swordsmen. Cynddl, a Fael storyfinder who joins them, helps with his knowledge of geography and archery but the echoes he hears of ancient battles deepen their worries. In short, Tam, Fynnol, and Baore find more adventure than they’d wanted, and get drawn unknowingly into a web of politics and intrigue.

Meanwhile, dire plots are underway in both noble families which formerly ruled the land. Elise, heiress to the Wills’ line, flees from an arranged marriage that would inevitably bring war. Her intended, Prince Michael, is attractive and honorable, but his father is so much under the sway of the evil sorcerer/warrior Hafydd that even Michael urges her to avoid the union. The Renne heir, Toren, is determined to return a piece of disputed land to the Wills. His cousins have failed to dissuade him and now plan to assassinate him after the tournament at the Westbrook Fair,...

(The entire section is 425 words.)