Heir of Autumn is a debut novel by authors Giles Carwyn and Todd Fahnestock. Evidently, this is the first book of a series but all the places I have checked I can not tell what the series is called. I do know that the second book, Mistress of Winter, is already released. Beyond that, there is little information available about this series.
The plot of this book centers on the city of Ohndarien and it's rulers called The Children of Seasons. The plot talks, briefly, about how someone `of the blood' can take the test to take over and become one of the Children. There is the subplot that the current Children of the Seasons have been missing for some time after undertaking a quest. There are a great deal of political sub plots immersed in this book, both in the city of Ohndarien as well as another nation. There is also a sub plot that one of the characters gets put into where he must compete in a grueling game called `Nine Squares'. Oddly enough, this subplot involving the game, and the character were the most interesting part of the novel to me. The overall plot seems well thought out, however, it does suffer from a few mistakes that can mostly be attributed to a debut novel. I will cover those in a second though.
The characters are hard to judge for me. At times, I liked the characters quite a bit. However, there were other times that I was not really caring about them. One minor character, Scythe, seems to steal the show every time he appears in the pages. It doesn't seem to be an intentional act by the authors, more so as just how powerful and fun the character really is. The main characters are Brophy, who's father is one of the Children of the Seasons and is next in line to some day take the Test. Another character is Shara who is a cross between a courtesan and a mage - deriving her powers from acts of intimacy. (I must say, this is a very interesting take of developing powers, and once you grasp the concept and it makes sense - it does add some interesting things to the characters.) Along the way there are an assortment of other characters that come and go, but those two are the main characters of the story and events largely focus on them. While I enjoyed Brophy and Shara as characters for the most part, they seemed to be inconsistent at times. What I mean by that is, at times they seem young, naïve, and whiny, yet the next scene they seem to have many answers and be wise beyond their years. If they were one or the other, I do not think it would have bothered me as much. But having the characters be inconsistent on such a wide spectrum does not work very well for the story.
Some of my criticisms about this novel are:
1 - The inconsistent character actions. It goes beyond Brophy and Shara and continues throughout the entire novel. It was disappointing, at times, to think - as a reader - I understand the character and their motivations only for them to completely go against what they should do just to benefit the story.
2 - The dialogue in this book is at times fantastic and then other times it amounts to nothing less than an information dump by the authors to make sure the reader understands key points. Being that this novel can be classified as more adult orientated the authors should not have to hold the readers hand to make sure they get the key points and that is how I felt at times.
3 - There is a lot that happens in this novel, but at times the story seems to wander a little bit. It seems that this novel may have benefited from removing a few of the side plots and side stories to really tighten it up some. Some of the scenes in the book appear to be there for no reason; however, this may be wrong if those scenes play apart in the next novel.
Some of the things that I enjoyed about this novel are:
1 - The pacing of this book is very good. It moves along at a solid pace and rarely slows. It's quite impressive that the authors were able to continue the pacing throughout the entire novel, with nary slowing down.
2 - The world, or at least the parts we are introduced to, is written well and seems to have a good deal of history behind it. This history gives credence to some of the characters dialogue and pieces of the story
3 - The ending. I wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil anything. But, I really enjoyed the ending and how things came together.
Even with its flaws, and remembering that this is a debut novel, Heir of Autumn is a solid read. There are a few clichés hidden within the pages, but they are cleverly done and don't stand out too much. With the sheer amount of fantasy novels being published this book can easily be dismissed and pushed to the back burner. However, when all is said and done, I think it's a decent enough novel. It may not be the first fantasy novel I would recommend to someone, but I can see myself recommending this novel to people from time to time. I do know, the ending of this book, makes me want to go out and purchase the second novel - which I will most likely do soon.