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Anselm Audley
Earthlight, Simon & Schuster, 400 pages

Anselm Audley
Anselm Audley was born in 1982. He attended Millfield School and then moved on to St John's College, Oxford, taking a course in Ancient and Modern History. He lives in Dorset.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Heresy

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rob Kane

Inquisition is the sequel to Anselm Audley's first novel, Heresy, picking up right where the first novel left off. In fact, if the two novels were to be spliced together, it would be hard to tell that they are in fact two separate books. The reader rejoins Cathan and his friends Palatine, and Ravenna just after they have managed to foil a plot of the Domain, the overbearing and power hungry religious order of Aquasilva. After recent events, it is decided that iron and weapons from Lepidor, Cathan's city, can no longer be sent to the trading city of Taneth, as the supplies will eventually fall into the hands of Domain, who are preparing for war. Instead, our three young characters set out for the distant Archipelago to try and arrange to sell weapons to dissident factions there. As with Cathan's previous voyage, this was supposed to be a quick and reasonably safe journey. However, this trip turns into a long, confusing, and terrifying journey for Cathan and his friends.

In the days before the Domain rose to power, and before the Thetian Empire ruled the waves, the Archipelago was once a mighty empire. The old religions still have a solid foundation in this land, a fact that greatly annoys the Domain. Twenty-three years ago, the Domain launched an unsuccessful and bloody Crusade in an attempt to stomp out any heretical ways. Instead, violent crusade only helped to push the populace even further away from the Domain. Now the Domain is about to launch another Crusade in an attempt to finish what they could not the first time. In their effort to make contact with the Archipelagan rebels, Cathan and his two friends get swept up with the larger events taking place, making their task so much harder.

Heresy promised the reader that the following book would likely be filled with various plots and schemes, and Inquisition fulfills the promise admirably. Great houses plot against each other for profit, Archipelagan rebels plot for independence, Thetian rebels plot for a republic, the emperor plots against rebels, heretics plot against the Domain, and the Domain plots against everybody. As the story is told solely from the view of Cathan, the reader will see the existence and general shape of schemes, but not know the true intent until the end. This makes the book very interesting, as the reader is forever wondering where the story will eventually go. However, all the elements of the story are well foreshadowed or explained, and none of the awkwardness is present from the previous book. Indeed, one of the unexpected events that took place in the previous book is explained, and now becomes an important story element in this book

Cathan and friends have matured dramatically since the first book. The petty and childish bickering between Cathan and Ravenna has been long left behind, leaving in place a solid friendship; perhaps with other possibilities in the future. And Palatine steps into her late father's shoes, assuming his place in vicious world of Thetian politics. The bonds of friendship between the three friends appear to be getting ever stronger. However, as the companions learn more about themselves and their responsibilities, the friendships are strained, a situation not at all aided by various external pressures. How the three characters deal with the pressures upon their friendship becomes one of the more important threads in the story.

Cathan and Ravenna are two of the most powerful mages in recent history on Aquasilva, yet their abilities have rarely come into play during this novel, an aspect of the books which I personally like. I've read more than a few stories where the new-found abilities of the protagonists become a crutch which allow them to escape virtually any situation. It's nice to read stories such as Audley's Aquasilva books where the characters must still rely on their wits and luck.

Stylistically, Inquisition is the same as Heresy. Not terribly surprising, considering that the two books were written fairly close together. This book is once again told in the first person, the reader seeing events through Cathan's eyes, a viewpoint that seems to be well matched with this particular story. The reader is provided with no more information about the events that are occurring than does Cathan, and so the reader can perhaps get a sense of the helplessness that Cathan feels as he pushed and pulled by forces beyond his control.

In all, Inquisition is successful sequel to Heresy, and readers who enjoyed the first book will undoubtedly like this one as well. And story threads left open ensure that third book will likely be just as interesting. I certainly plan to get my hands on the next once it comes out.

Copyright © 2002 Rob Kane

Robert learned to read with a litle help from Lloyd Alexander, and he hasn't stopped reading fantasy since then. No matter how busy life gets he can always find time for a good book.

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