Farlander - Col Buchanan


Book 1 of "The Heart of the World"

ISBN - 978-0-330-51188-9
PAGES - 388
GENRE - Fantasy
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Col Buchanan

SYNOPSIS - [from the back cover]

The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the holy empire of Mann has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators.

The Mercian Free Ports are the only confederacy yet to fall. For ten years now, the great southern walls of Bar-Khos have been besieged by the Imperial Fourth Army - its only a matter of time...

Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he choses Nico, a young man living in besieged Bar-Khos.

When the Holy Matriarch's son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the Roshun, he forces the sect to seek his life. As Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfill the Roshun orders, their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports...into bloodshed and death.

EXCERPT - Baracha snorted. "You brandy with words. If you commit this act, you break the code that we live by. It is a personal vendetta you are speaking of, and it goes against all that the Roshun stand for. Even I can appreciate that much."

"Then I'm no longer Roshun," replied Ash coldly, "and I break only my only my own code, not of the order."

FL Speak -
Now that's a how you write a first fantasy novel. Full of action, adventure, hope and bravery in the face of utmost despair and tragedy.

This is why I like reading new fantasy authors every time I get the chance. They tend to do something different and often, manages it successfully. Although, the plot may not be the most original, Col Buchanan manages to surprise you with the proceedings.

The main protagonist in this book is Ash, a sixty something Roshun. Roshun is a secret sect that offers protection.  And by protection, I mean vengeance against anyone who kills a person who's under their protection. So when the son of the Holy Matriarch murders an innocent under the Roshun's protection, they declare vengeance on the person, knowing fully well it might lead to their total annihilation.

Ash, suffering from an incurable disease and growing older by the day, takes a young thief, Nico as his apprentice. In the institution, he develops a close friendship with one of the boys who's from the city of Mann, the same kingdom that has been waging war on the world for the last 50 years. When the original trio of Roshun who set out to seek the murderer of the protected is killed, Ash and Baracha take on the mission. Together with their apprentices they go up against the most guarded place among enemy lines.

Nico is the regular kid, who is always stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time, makes mistakes, tries to learn faster than he is able to and is forever conflicted with indecision. The other characters in the book, including the Holy Matriarch are an interesting bunch as well. However her son, Kirkus is one character I loathe the most. Possibly the second most after Joffrey from GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire.

Another interesting thing to note is that the setting is not some random Middle Earth with elves and trolls and dwarves. No, Col Buchanan manages to write a tale that has airships, gunpowder, swords and pistols. Kind of reminds me of the Malazan Empire, however magic and sorcery is completely negligible.
Everything was all smiles until the end when the twist made me reread the same page again and again. I certainly was NOT expecting THAT!!! Now it makes me wonder how is Mr. Buchanan going to carry on the series, because it is definitely going to get interesting.

This is a debut that paves the path for an exciting new series, with a completely different hero than we see in most other novels. A well planned perfect execution of a tale that is going to stand out for quite some time.

My Rating - 4.5 stars

PRICE - INR 325/-

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