‘Seer King’ is a superb example of what the first book in a fantasy trilogy should be like. The story is set in a land on the verge of ruin as dark magic surfaces and threatens to overcome all of the nations within in. Matters are complicated further by conflict between the various nations as well as the current ruling body’s inability to make the necessary decisions and work actively together. As the world begins to fall apart completely we follow the rise of Seer Tenedos, who will eventually become Emperor, through the eyes of a confident young calvary officer. Together they form an unlikely pair; one relying on his mind and mystical abilities while the other’s strengths lie in physical combat and military tactics. But through their many battles together and shared experiences these two men develop a sound respect for each other and manage to change the course of events drastically.
I found it slightly difficult to get into the book initially as the focus was on a sport’s match, which demonstrated how a small matter can have a huge outcome and set into motion a lifetime of events, but I felt that the detail surrounding this opening sequence was excessive. As soon as Damastes, the young soldier, was sent on his first mission and met Tenedos, the story really took off and I did not encounter a dull moment from there right until the end. I particularly liked the variety of battles and skirmishes spoken of by Damastes. Chris Bunch obviously knows a lot about military life and warfare, using this expertise to create unique situations and resolve each in an innovative way. Having said that he manages to prevent becoming bogged down with too much intricate detail by interspersing these soldiering sequences with well-written, highly evocative love and sex scenes. I found it interesting that a person could live their life as a soldier, putting on a cold, detached demeanour in order to survive and succeed in harsh times, while retaining a warm heart capable of great love and passion despite all the horror they have seen.
The two characters at the heart of this story, Damastes and Tenedos, are well-thought out and provide the reader with excellent entertainment. Their volatile natures serve to create some highly amusing conversations as neither will be the first to back down over what they view as right, yet for all their strong wills and determination each has their own weakness to show the reader that no-one is perfect. There are many other characters of interest within ‘Seer King’; some of whom last the entire length of the story while others are merely present for a chapter. But all of them manage to leave their impression on Damastes and contribute to the richness of the tale.
This entire book is written from Damaste’s point of view looking back at his life and how he came to be in his current position, which is prison awaiting a possible death sentence. He states that Tenedos brought about their doom and during the retelling of his life hints at how the future was not to be as they hoped, but the author does not let slip as to what went wrong or why at this stage. These small suggestions will obviously lead to the final climax at the end of the trilogy and my curiosity has been beautifully piqued so that I will not stop reading until I know the answer. In the meantime however I have been able to enjoy this action-packed adventure story brimming with examples of betrayal, love, courage and political manipulation. Hopefully the second installment in this series will prove just as addictive.
Reviewed by Helen Kerslake
Copyright © sffworld.com. If quoted please credit "sffworld.com, name of reviewer".