“By Divine Right,” the prequel to a longer series, starts out with a wonderful little mystery about the main character, Willet, then segues into a detailed description of the town — a little *too* detailed for my tastes, but hang in there, the story picks up after that in an entirely readable fantasy detective fashion. The real mystery is soon revealed as Willet follows his insatiable curiosity (and apprehension) in an attempt to discover who is stealing magical gifts.
The culture is fascinating and richly multi-layered. The characters are expertly drawn: Jed the chief reeve (evidently comparable to a sheriff), Rory the urchin, Duke Orlan, and the plucky Lady Gael, and a handful of others. There are no nondescript characters, but this doesn’t require pages of description for each, either. A scar here, a phobia there… Told from a first person point of view, Willet doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on details of his past. He is preoccupied with the war that robbed him of his chance to become a priest and gave him a dark secret even he doesn’t understand.
As a plot to draw the reader into the series, this works well. There are questions presented here that are not fully answered. I didn’t find that a bad thing, as the story is complete in itself and so delightfully done.
Willet Dura ekes out a living as an assistant reeve in the city of Bunard, the royal city, investigating minor and not-so-minor crimes in the poor quarter. Ever since a terrible battle, Willet’s been drawn to the dead, and has an uncanny ability not only to solve their crimes, but even to know when one has been committed.
When a gifted musician is found dead in the merchants’ quarter of the city, everyone assumes by the signs that the old man simply died of a stroke, but Willet’s intuition tells him better. When he learns that this is the second death within the last month of one of the gifted, those with a rare inherited ability, he begins to suspect that something more is afoot, and he soon finds himself chasing a mystery that could bring down the very kingdom of Collum.
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Have you read it yet?
Have you got any single-point-of-view fantasies to recommend?