Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.  So here's a thing I find I'm looking forward to, almost in spite of myself: Stolen Crown, by Dennis L. McKiernan (Roc Hardcover, 4 February 2014).

For more than a hundred years, a bitter dispute over how the High King had been selected simmered in the dark halls of the royal family whose line had not been chosen. They held fast to their anger and bitterness through generations.

Finally one of their sons, Arkov of Garia, seized the throne through treachery and by force of arms, claiming it as rightfully his. But in his haste to see the king and queen slain, Arkov failed to confirm the death of the young prince, Reyer, who was spirited away to safety.

On a distant and mysterious island ruled by elves, where he was raised and trained by a trusted Captain of the slain High King, Reyer has now come of age. He has learned of his lineage—and those loyal to the bloodline of the true High King have rallied to his side.

And though the forces of his enemy are far superior, Reyer will gather an army and lead them against the Usurper—to gain back the crown and kingdom stolen from him and to restore Mithgar to its rightful rule.

Cover and description from Fantastic Fiction.

I have an ambiguous relationship with the work of Dennis McKiernan. His first published work, the Iron Tower trilogy that established his Mithgar setting, was such an egregious ripoff of The Lord of the Rings that I was frankly amazed, even at the age of 14 or 15, that it had gotten by the eagle eyes of the Tolkien estate. I mean, the plot corresponded beat for beat, and the characters were all exceedingly familiar Types. I mean, it was more obvious than Terry Brooks' first Shannara books, and those were pretty damned obvious. And on top of that, McKiernan tried to use a Shakespeare-in-the-park kind of language that didn't come naturally to him, and it sounded pretty clunky.

But I read the whole thing, and not just because at that time of my life I hadn't yet realized that I really had no obligation to finish every book I started. There was just something about it, in spite of all the obvious surface flaws, that showed enough promise that I wanted to keep going. I read some more of his Mithgar stuff later on, too, and to this day I will defend Dragondoom against all comers, one by one or all in a bunch, as a truly excellent epic tragedy of a fantasy novel.

It's been a while since I read anything by him, but I think I might give this one a try.

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