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The One True Prince
Thomas Brennan
Five Star, 290 pages

The One True Prince
Thomas Brennan
The One True Prince is the first novel from Thomas Brennan. He lives in the UK.

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A review by Nathan Brazil

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'Eighteen years ago, the Physick-Scientists had given the King five sons. Of the five Princes, only one could succeed to the throne, and only the King or the Lord Chamberlain could proclaim which man that would be.'
Thomas Brennan's first novel is an attempt to mix science with sword. The premise is that centuries past there was an apocalyptic war and only a very few still have access to high technology. The majority of the world's population has reverted to a medieval lifestyle. In order to guarantee an unbroken line of succession for the English throne, the protocol is that the first born son is cloned, four times. The result is five, almost identical Princes, only one of which actually comes from the womb of the Queen. The five are separated in early childhood, and squirreled away in remote locations. When the time of the old King draws to a close, the five are summoned to London, and it is revealed which among them is the one true Prince. This occurs in a closed ceremony, where the next King is named by Chamberlain Parak Mor, the keeper of the great secret.

Tiegue Na Cereth, who prefers to be known as Ty, is one such Prince, who answers the summons accompanied by his bodyguard Jared Eolein. Meanwhile, at Siloth monastery, where Prince Lorcan resides, murderers come in the night, and only Lady Myria escapes. At this point we learn that a conspiracy is brewing, led by a Count in the regulation black jerkin with a silver hawk design. The Count's men are also onto Tiegue and Jared, who they try to ambush out on the road. What follows is a dual chase and escape saga, that includes sword fights, a maiden in distress, dastardly doings, and even a nautical version of Quasimodo.

'Throughout the forest, spaced a quarter of a mile apart, the skeletal Marching Men towered over the trees. Antique towers of crumbling metal, they had once carried power across the land.'
The story becomes a fair to middling fantasy, which veers between stock characters and a quite good idea trying to get out. The One True Prince is very much a first novel, and while the author shows promise, it could have done with a much more vigorous polish and liberal shakes of the credibility cellar. Many elements are predictable, and because of their over familiarity, detract from the spell being woven. Similarly, the background of high science in the hands of a few never feels as well thought out as it should. I found it hard to lose myself in the story and simply believe. But, there was enough going on to keep me reading, and hoping that the plot would eventually live up to its potential. Happily, toward the end, twists involving the Irish Emissary Brack Nolan, the other Princes, Nessam, Ultan and Caan, and the delightfully Machiavellian Princess Orla, made me glad I'd persevered. Despite an irritating problem introduced by the publisher, where proper paragraph breaks are replaced by a line of five asterisks. In conclusion, I suspect that Thomas Brennan's school report sometimes read 'could do better.' That's the case with this novel, at least by the grizzled standards of seasoned science fantasy readers. However, cliché only really applies if you know it's cliché. Younger readers, who by their nature are not so jaded, may well find The One True Prince is a blast of adventure and intrigue.

Copyright © 2004 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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