Friday, April 13, 2012

Darkness Rising, Ross M Kitson

This week I am reviewing Darkness Rising, which is written by British fantasy author Ross M Kitson.  This is a tale that has all the elements of a true classic.  The plot moves along in unexpected ways, and the characters are compelling and draw you in.  You find yourself turning the pages and reading, even when you should be putting it down and *cough* working.

And now for our story! 
Born with strange silver-grey eyes, Emelia is trapped in servitude to uncaring and haughty masters. Technically she is a ‘hired servant’ and not a slave, but the family who ‘employs’ her and others like her own her, body and soul.   It is a life that is harsh and unforgiving to a girl hears voices that counsel rebellion and who frequently crosses the line and forgets her place through no fault of her own.  Even so, she has friends and loved ones within the servant community, and even a wistful romantic interest. Because of her eyes, she is called ‘Star-Eyed’, and it is suspected that one of her ancestors was actually a ‘Subaquan’ or a merman. Events happen to Emelia and she finds herself caught up in them, unable to control them or to avoid the punishments that surely follow.

The family that employs her, the Ebon-Farrs are members of an elite and highly-placed nobility with many important connections. They are also possessed of an item, a Crystal that the Arch-mage, Inkas-Tarr desires and plans to steal. Inkas also desires to possess Emelia, and he makes a bargain with the Ebon-Farrs to purchase her. Arch-mage Inkas is the highest ranking Elemental master and he sees something in her that he wishes to have at his enclave to study.

Before that can happen, she inadvertently runs afoul of Uthor Ebon-Farr, the arrogant son of the house, and strange powers emerge within her, but she is unaware of what has happened, only that strange things are happening to her, and that she is punished severely for the events that she had no control over.

On the night that she makes her escape from her masters, Emelia meets two men, Hunor and Jem, who are attempting to steal the very crystal that Arch-mage Inkas has also sent a thief after. Things begin to really go awry, but it turns out that Emelia is a Wild Mage, and is the antitheses of the Elemental Mages.

It turns out that the crystal is actually a dangerous and powerful magical artifact, one of the Prisms of Power - ancient artifacts made by a long dead race containing terrifying magic.

Once she is embroiled with Hunor and Jem, she embarks upon an epic adventure to find the Prisms. The Prisms are necessary to defeat the lord of the ghasts, the undead mages who are unequivocally evil.  No wishy-washy maybe-they-are evil here!!!  The Lord of the Ghasts is Evil. Emelia holds the key to their location but the Wild-magic comes at a dire cost...that of her mind.

Kitson has created a world that is fully fleshed in both its history and its social structure, and built a system of magic that is logical and is fully believable.  The details are slipped into the story in such a way that the reader does not get bored.  I was able to fully picture the world that Kitson describes, and found myself immersed in the lives of Emelia, Hunor and Jem. I didn't want the book to end!
I am SO looking forward to the next step in their adventures!  Ross M Kitson, please write faster!

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