A slow beginning, until all clicks together.,
This review is from: The One Kingdom: Book One of the Swans' War Trilogy (Paperback)
The One Kingdom tells the story of three young lads from the Vale of Lakes, Tam Loell and his cousin Fynnol, and Fynnol's cousin Baore Talon, who set off on the river Wynnd to sell artefacts found on an ancient battlefield in the town of Inniseth.
The first night they're met by Alaan, a stranger looking for old stories about given names in the Vale. When they're attacked by brigands, Alaan sacrifices himself to help the young men escape. The next morning, they meet a party of travelling Fáel. Among them Cynddl, a story finder, asks to join the boys on their trip downriver. A trip that will end up taking them much further south than they initially intended.
South, where Dease, Samul, Arden and Beldor Renné are plotting the political murder, at the annual Westbrook Fair, of their cousin Toren, current leader of the family. This way they want to prevent him from returning the Isle of Battle to the Wills, the Renné's age-old enemies. Indeed, they think this peace offer will make them vulnerable and bring the family to ruin, plus they hope to frame the Wills at the same time.
Also caught in the midst of this intrigue is 20-year-old Elise, daughter of the blind musician Lord Carral Wills and niece of the despicable Menwyn, who wants to marry her off to Prince Michael, son of Prince Neit of Innes, and use her to reawaken war against the Renné.
I found the beginning of the story rather slow, with the first four protagonists mainly rowing down the river, and sometimes reminiscent of the Fellowship of the Ring, with young cousins off on an adventure, meeting elf-like Fáel, being tracked down by scary men... I also thought the short glimpses at the numerous other characters' stories were kind of confusing. Thankfully, the plot really gets interesting when all pieces finally click together around 200 pages before the end, and the book suddenly becomes a page-turner.