Rhidauna, The Shadow of the Revenaunt, is a traditional fantasy that takes place in a well-drawn world of mages, golums, shapeshifters, and men and women living in medieval towns and villages. The Kingdom of Rhidauna has had no King for eighteen years since the King, Queen and their two sons died in ‘accidents.’ The Regent hid the youngest son to grow up in obscurity for his safety, but now it is time for his return. Ghyll does not know that he is the heir to the throne, but when his home is attacked by Golems and burned into ash by Firebirds, killing all except him and his friends who happened to be on a boar hunt at the time, he finds papers that set him on a quest during which his identity becomes clear – at least to his companions. Someone is trying to kill Ghyll, and their quest involves many battles as they try to escape the various traps set by his potential assassins.
It’s a traditional format, that of the noble quest with a varied band of companions, a heroic secret king at its head and a large, devoted lifetime friend at his side. It’s a good tale; not particularly original, but well-constructed and solidly told with a good pace. Some stories in this style are heavy and ponderous, but this had a good balance of light and shade. I enjoyed the characters; Ghyll showed the kind of command over and concern for the people that one would want from a King, and his companions showed the fierce kind of loyalty befitting such a man. All up, Rhidauna delivers an essentially noble and heartening story that fans of the genre should enjoy. The end may leave some a little disappointed, however, because though Ghyll’s story has a satisfactory end, the antagonist’s story just stops rather than ends. Even as the first of a series, it could have been worded to give more of a sense of conclusion whilst still indicating that the story continues.
The prose suffered from the occasional passive construction and expositional writing where something more immediate would have been better, but it wasn’t enough to be a major issue. The copy editing appeared flawless.