Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The One Kingdom (The Swan's War: Book 1)

By Sean Russell

The cataclysm began more than a century earlier, when the King of Ayr died before naming an heir to the throne, and damned his realm to chaos. The cold-blooded conspiracies of the Renne and the Wills—each family desirous of the prize of rule—would sunder the one kingdom, and spawn generations of hatred and discord.

Now Toren Renne, leader of his great and troubled house, dreams of peace—a valiant desire that has spawned hostility among his kinsmen, and vicious internal plots against his life. In the opposing domain, Elise Wills's desire for freedom is to be crushed, as an unwanted marriage to an ambitious and sinister lord looms large. As always, these machinations of nobles are affecting the everyday lives of the common folk—and feeding a bonfire of animosity that has now trapped an unsuspecting young Valeman Tam and two fortune-hunting friends from the North in its high, killing flames.

But the closer Toren comes to achieving his great goal of uniting two enemy houses, the more treachery flowers. Nobles and mystics alike conspire to keep the realm divided, knowing that only in times of strife can their power grow.

And perhaps the source of an unending misery lies before an old king's passing, beyond the scope of history, somewhere lost in a fog of myth and magic roiling about an ancient enchanter named Wyrr—who bequeathed to his children terrible gifts that would poison their lives...and their deaths. It is a cursed past and malevolent sorcery that truly hold the land, its people, and its would-be rulers bound. And before the already savaged kingdom can become one again, all Ayr will drown in a sea of blood. *Blurb Source:

*Blurb source* HarperCollins
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Purchase ~ The One Kingdom (The Swans' War, Book 1) ~ From AmazonThe One Kingdom
The One Kingdom by Sean Russell

The One Kingdom (The Swans' War, #1)
| Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
| ISBN-10: 0380792273
| ISBN-13: 978-0380792276
| Publisher: HarperTorch (February 5, 2002)
| Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
| Cover Artist: Stephen Hickman
| Source: Kindle-Personal Copy
| Rating: 5 Stars

Fantasy Series Review by Mulluane

♦ The Story. The blurb covers the backstory nicely but the real story (atleast to my mind) is about three young men who set off on an adventure in typical Fantasy style. Coming from the backside of nowhere, the three are just planning on a simple trip to buy some horses. What they got however was much much more. Sound familiar? Of course it does! But before you blow this tale off as yet another Tolkien repeat try to remember one thing. Nobody ever tells a story in exactly the same way. Each author leaks pieces of his or her own personality onto the page, making the tale their very own.

♦ The Great. So lets start with what I liked about the story. I have a confession to make. Lately I have gotten a bit tired of all the dark, gritty, angst ridden Epic Fantasy that is currently so popular. So I wanted to read something magical. Something that engaged my sense of wonder. Before I start waxing poetic I want to confess one more thing. I adore lovely, lyrical, descriptive prose. The kind of stuff some might call corny or some similar unflattering phrase, but I love it. And because of this, I fell in love on the very first page. Let me give you an example of why. Chapter One, Paragraph 2.

Around them the wind was in flight, more joyous than a swallow, as heedless as a child. It swept down onto the new green oats and raked through the hay, making waves and patterns like sand on a riverbed.

And it just goes on from there. Could you see the wind dancing? I could. Sean Russell painted a beautiful picture with nothing but words. Such lovely words. This story was already magical without a sign of magic in sight, at least not yet. With a big sigh of contentment I melted into my chair and proceeded to devour page after page.

♦ The Good. There are some Fantasy tropes here, I won't deny it. There are the three young men setting off on an adventure, the Prince and Princess whose families are forcing to marry against their will, the evil mastermind, and the dark mysterious stranger slash wizard. There is a political feud, love, loyalty, betrayal and loss. There is a dark history followed by an uneasy peace, of sorts, which is now being threatened. But, Sean Russell has taken all of these familiar themes and made them his own. I enjoyed almost every minute of the adventure.

♦ The Bad. This portion of the review is going to deviate from anything I have ever complained about before. I have not had my Kindle for long but like anybody else I have read my share of free books which were full of grammar, formatting and spelling errors. This trilogy however, while not free, was and still is, an almost too good to be true deal at .99 cents a book. But I wasn't worried by the price, afterall it was written by an accomplished author and published by HarperCollins!

So what is the problem you ask? How often does one get a chance to buy an entire trilogy for 3 bucks and published by one of the top publishing houses in the world! Well unfortunately there was a problem and the fact of the matter is, if I hadn't enjoyed the story so much, I would not have been able to read it. Considering the source, I expected better. Considering the price, maybe I shouldn't have.

♦ The Problem. This ebook is horribly formatted. I'd be reading along, totally enraptured by the story and I'd come to a sentence that read like this. "He came be a ring a sword." Huh? Go back, reread, sometimes twice. OH! He came bearing a sword! Only now, I have pulled completely out of the story so I can puzzle out the sentence. I did not count the number of times this occurred but it was often enough to really annoy me. There were also words or sentences rammed together with no spaces and words split in two by a single space. Those didn't require a double take but were still distracting. At times it honestly looked like an unedited manuscript. I was mortified, not for myself, but for the author. Nobody deserves to have their hard work butchered like that, ever. Especially when said author has such a lovely way with words.

♦ The Conclusion. Bad formatting aside, I was delighted with this story. It was mystical, lyrical, and quite frankly, fun to read. It was dark when it needed to be dark, characters brooded when the situation called for it, but they were still able to laugh it off on occasion too. There were twists and turns. Things you could see coming, things that you definitely didn't and some you likely should have but they caught you by surprise anyway. It was everything I was looking for and for once, my instincts were spot on. The pace was steady throughout and even though a lot of traveling was done, it was never boring. You always had the sense that trouble was just around the bend and there was no telling what form it might take.

It was a definite break from dark and depressing, but not exactly Disney either. For me it was nestled comfortably between the two. Even the ending was beautifully done and felt natural, instead of forced. Now I must go forth and read more about our three reluctant heroes, the feuding families, the mysterious Knights, the strange phantom, the braver than she thinks Princess and the rest of the assorted cast of sorcerers and villains. You have no idea how much I am looking forward to more of this story. Formatting challenges aside, I am giving this book a five star rating based solely on the story itself and all of those beautiful descriptions.

Series Summary
Books in Series

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

Librarything 3.6/5

Amazon Rating 4.0 out of 5 stars
(48 Customer Reviews)

What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: The One Kingdom: Book One Of The Swan's War Trilogy

Audible: No

Buy Book: AbeBooks - BAM

Book Depository

Amazon: US - Canada - UK
Already read the series? Please add your own rating!

Epic Fantasy Book Review of The One Kingdom (The Swan's War: Book 1) by Sean Russell - Reviewed by Mulluane - on September 03, 2013 - Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Mulluane is a 56-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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