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The Kingless Land
Ed Greenwood
Tor Books, 304 pages

Ed Greenwood
Ed Greenwood was born in 1959 and grew up in North York, Ontario. He holds a Ryerson Polytechnic University Bachelor of Applied Arts degree (Honours: Journalism), and lives on a farm near Cobourg, Ontario. He is the creator of The Forgotten Realms world of gaming and fiction from TSR. From their first appearance in a Dragon Magazine article entitled "The Curst," way back in issue #30, Forgotten Realms have grown into TSR's best-selling product line, with copy sales in the tens of millions.

About the series, Ed Greenwood says:

"Some people explore caves (I was one of them, when thinner), some folks invent things (me, perhaps, when/if I ever get it back together again), and some people create worlds. I'm one of those, and mine are always vaguely medieval (swords, armour, castles) fantasy (magic works) worlds. For some years now, TSR, Inc. (now Wizards of the Coast) has been publishing novels and game products about one of my first worlds, the Forgotten Realms, and it's grown in the telling, into what's now the most detailed world going. It's been an honour, down those years, to be part of a creative team, and to detail this and that in answer to a gamer's or fantasy reader's desires to know more... but I've also wanted to craft other worlds, and tell more intimate tales, on my own. The Kingless Land gives readers a first look at the world of Darsar, and one riven land in particular: Aglirta. Take a liberal handful of dastardly barons, too many grasping wizards, a few reluctant heroes who haven't time to stop and smell a tenth of the flowers that catch their eyes as they hurtle through the realm trying to save it and their own skins, and you have The Kingless Land. I wanted to slow down the action, tell thrice the parallel tales (of Flaeros, for example, and the doings of all of the barons, and more of the bickering and treacheries among the Dark Three), but that would have meant a book at least four times as long and, well, more boring... and in the interests of selling tomes and therefore getting more chances to tell tales of Darsar, this one is 'wahoo!-action-time.' So sit back somewhere comfy and quiet, get your favourite comfort food and beverage, and settle into an (I hope) old-fashioned 'charge ahead to save the realm!' tale.

"Gamers might like to know that the magical powers of the Dwaer are all worked out, the priesthoods of the Three stand fully detailed, and the lineages of the ruling baronial families back three centuries are fairly complete... but the book is light, fast, fun action. Oh, the pathos and philosophy and depth is under there, and if you want more of it and ask for it, you may see more of it in later books -- and there WILL be later books; the second one will probably be called The Recrowned King, though things can always change -- but for now, it's fun time. I really had fun writing The Kingless Land, and I hope you do, too, reading it. Enjoy!"

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

The Kingless Land RPG fans are either jumping about hysterically right now or they're weeping hysterically. (Hysteria being a common state to the diehard gamer.) Should you be glad to see the creator of Forgotten Realms branching off into a novel series? Maybe you want to keep Greenwood strictly in the gaming arena, not wasting his time on something besides creating new role-playing worlds? Judging by The Kingless Land, you are going to have to get used to sharing him. The Band of Four series is going to keep Greenwood in demand in the novel category for some time. It's out of our hands, now.

Aglirta, a land studded with feuding baronies, lethal mages, travelling bards, and -- as you may have guessed from the title -- no king to unite the country. There is a king, but he has been sleeping for some one thousand years now; only those wielding a mighty magic and legendary relics can awaken him.

Magic is in no short supply in this world. Lady Embra Silvertree, daughter of the most powerful and most ruthless baron of all, is a sorceress in her own right. Until she is liberated by a pair of reluctant rescuers, she is destined to become the lifeforce of his castle. Add one reclusive healer to the mix and you have a motley crew heading out to save Aglirta.

The odds are not really in their favour. At times, the battlefield becomes so crowded with warriors, mages, and voyagers that you can't tell the players without a scorecard. The combination makes for some frenzied, intense combat scenes, and some battles from which it appears no one will emerge unharmed.

Greenwood has set up an impressive backdrop for his new series, packed with adventure, danger, mystery, magic, and romance. Characters destroyed have a nasty habit of reappearing to continue the fight. Few can be believed and even fewer can be relied on. Even within the Band of Four, trust is a hard-won treasure.

The Kingless Land is story in constant motion, there is precious little time for the characters or the reader to catch their breath. Relaxation is a thing of the past.

In fact, there is a minor test of the reader before jumping wholeheartedly into the story. Greenwood's sentence structure can take a bit of getting used to. Some passages will require a second, more careful, read to get the precise meaning. It's perfectly acceptable, just something that will take slightly more concentration than usual.

The extra work is worth it, though. Greenwood's cast are people we come to care about, or loath. The quest to awaken the Sleeping King before total anarchy overtakes Aglirta is one readers will become immersed in, even as the combatants become immersed in blood, time after time.

True, the epilogue comes as a jolting leap over a much anticipated climax, leaving the reader feeling let-down and somewhat cheated of the magnificent reunion. On the other hand, we have seen enough magic at that point to have conjured up the "missing" scene in our minds -- Greenwood is just smart enough to leave it to our imaginations.

A new series, a new land, and a band of adventurers we can root for -- it's got everything a fantasy fan could ask for and more. Much more.

Copyright © 2000 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, will be published in early 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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