Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back From Chaos (Earth's Pendulum, Book 1) - Yvonne Hertzberger

First, let me preface this by saying that I had no idea which book(s) I ought to review first.  I guess I could use the FIFO method -- first in, first out, or in this case it would be more like first read, first reviewed -- except it's been so long that I can't remember now the order I read them in.  So I've resorted to using a random number generator.

Yvonne Hertzberger, your number is up!

"Earth's Pendulum" is a classic fantasy series.  You've got warring nations, political intrigue, criminals, and magic.  In this case, much of the magic is Earth-based.  The Earth in this world is sentient -- an actual Goddess -- and not only does She feel pain when Her children act against Her wishes, but She has the power to enact retribution on them.  Unfortunately, this Divine retaliation often affects people whose actions are only tangentially connected to the wrongdoers.  And when a nation goes rogue, much of the planet can be affected.

You would think the people would recognize this, and act not in their own self-interest, but in the interest of the whole Earth.  Alas, people in this world are just as mean-spirited and pigheaded as on our earth.  Which is good in the sense that otherwise there wouldn't be a story here to tell.

Book One, Back From Chaos, opens in the aftermath of Bargia's invasion of Catania.  Both the Bargian king and his son and heir have been killed in battle, so rule of the newly-united kingdom falls to Gaelen, the second son.  As luck (and Earth) would have it, he's intelligent and kind, and much better suited to the job of king than either his father or his brother -- which is a good thing, because among his first acts is to convince only surviving member of Catania's royal family, Princess Marja, to wed him.

Gaelen has inherited a number of advisors from his father, and one of the challenges he faces is determining whether all of them will be loyal to him.  Among the group is a man named Klast.  Politically astute, unassuming, and trained in the deadly arts, Klast is perhaps Gaelen's best friend, as well as his most trusted adviser.

Owing to a troubled past, Klast believes he must be a loner -- a belief that's sorely challenged when he rescues Marja's maid, Brensa, after she is mistaken for Marja,  kidnapped, and violated.  It falls to Klast to teach Brensa to trust again, and perhaps, even, to love.

Hertzberger has built a believable world with intriguing characters, whose actions and reactions ring true.  Klast, in particular, is a great character.  Here's a guy who can hide in plain sight and whose brain is always clicking, always evaluating every nuance of every situation.  I was glad he was on our side.