Domes of Fire by David Eddings - PRINCE SPARHAWK AND THE TROLL-GODS
Queen Ehlana and the Pandion Knight Sir Sparhawk are married, their kindfom peaceful at last, their union blessed with a very special daughter named Danae. But soon trouble sweeps westward from the Tamul Empire to disrupt not only the living of Eosia but the dead: horrific armies are being raised from the dust of the long-past Age of Heroes, threatening the peace won at such a cost in Zemoch.
Prince Sparhawk is called upon to help the Tamuli nations defeat these ancient horrors. Perhaps the Troll-Gods are once more loose in the world! With Ehlana and a retinue of Pandion Knights, Sparhawk will make the hazardous journey to the Tamuli Empire, aided by Aphrael the child Goddess...only to discover in fire-domed Matherion, the incandescent Tamuli capital, that the enemy is already within its gates.
Domes of Fire begins a spectacular new David Eddings trilogy, The Tamuli. Full of marvels and humour, full of romance and shrewdness, above all full of magic, the resources of the epic form are mined deep by the greatest of modern fantasy writers. From the blurb.
WARNING: This is a follow up trilogy to David Eddings' The Elenium. The events in these books take place several years after those in The Elenium, with the same characters. Therefore, this series - and so also my review - discusses things revealed in the previous trilogy. Read no further if you plan on reading The Elenium but don't wish it to be spoiled for you. Click here to be taken to the end of my review for links to my reviews of the books in The Elenium.
Domes of Fire begins six years after the end of The Sapphire Rose. Queen Ehlana is back on her throne, married to Sparhawk, with a daughter of six - who we know to actually be an incarnation of the Child Goddess Aphrael. Annias, Martel and Azash are no more, and the Bhelliom is at the bottom of some unknown sea off of some unknown coast. Apart from Sparhawk wearing a few too many hats for his liking - Prince Consort and Interim Pandion Preceptor - and feeling stretched thin with all the political goings on that requires his attention, all in Elenia is fine.
However, strange things soon crop up in Lamorkand, talks of rebelling against the King and that the return of a long dead local hero from centuries past. With the arrival of an emissary of the Tamuli Empire, Foreign Minister Oscagne, at the Basilica in Chyrellos with grave news of turmoil in the Empire, Sparhawk is called by Archprelate Dolmant to hear the trouble Oscagne's homeland is having at his request. It seems all over the Empire, people are stirring up the countrymen to revolution, announcing the reappearance of ancient heroes come to free them from those above them. The Emperor is failing to stamp down on the revolts as he normally is with the help of the Atans, Tamuli warriors, what with whole armies of centuries past being raised from the dead and supernatural monsters being spotted. Having heard of Sparhawk's proess and achievement against Azash, Oscagne has come to plead that he journey to Tamuli and help save the Empire.
Domes of Fire is the first book in a second trilogy following Sparhawk and his friends. I enjoyed their company so much in the last trilogy, I decided to continue reading about them in The Tamuli, despite feeling a little disappointed at the end of the last. The majority of this story covers the journey from Chyrellos to fire-domed Matherion, the capital of the Tamuli Empire, and it is an incredibly long journey. Saying that, there's still a lot that happens. Now aware that the books about Sparhawk are more political intrigue and strategy based, I enjoyed Domes of Fire much more than I did The Sapphire Rose, simply because I wasn't expecting more.
There are various different peoples occupying the countries that make up the Empire, with their own culture and beliefs. Each country that Sparhawk and his companions travel through, bar Atan, have seen their own evidence of the people wanting to revolt. Information is gathered and introductions are made along the way - Queen Ehlana's presence helping to smooth things over with the royals met, her wonderful personality making easy alliances for when action is needed as the story goes on. Much is afoot in Tamuli, and someone really wants to cause trouble. But more than that, there is some supernatural element behind it all, or allianced with the people, something with enough power to raise the dead... something that strongly hints at a God or Gods. And with the arrival of a familiar dark shadow, Sparhawk and his friends begin to strongly suspect the Troll-Gods.
We see a lot more of Mirtai in this book. Mirtai, an Atan warrior, was introduced to us in the last trilogy, but she didn't get much page time. "Given" to Queen Ehlana by Platime, leader of the Elenian crimals, Mirtai becomes Ehlana's personal bodyguard, and takes her job very seriously - even going so far as to bullying the Queen into doing what she thinks is best for her health and safety, and pretty much everyone else too. She is a formidable woman of about six feet, but one dearly loved by all who know her well. Especially Kring, the Domi of the Peloi, the horse people of Pelosia. It's awesome to see how their relationship develops. It's even more awesome to learn more about the Atan culture while in Atan, and come to understand Mirtai a little better. Again, kudos to Eddings for his strong women!
We meet a number of new characters in this book, two being Baroness Melidere and the maid Alean, ladies in waiting to the Queen. Both are so much more than they seem, and both are brilliant. There are political advantages to having their perspectives while in Tamuli, but it's also wonderful to see them plan to rope in several of Sparhawk's male companions. I do love me some romance! We also get to meet Oscagne, Norkan, the Tamuli ambassador in Atan, and Emperor Sarabian. These characters! They add much humour to a story already quite humourous, what with Kalten, Tynian and Ulath continuing to make an appearance. there is a lot of politics involved, but there is also a lot of humour. These characters really know how to banter!
A fantastic start which looks to be a really exciting trilogy - and if I remember rightly, I won't be disappointed!
David Eddings' Website
My reviews of The Elenium Trilogy:
The Diamond Throne (The Elenium Book 1)
The Ruby Knight (The Elenium Book 2)
The Sapphire Rose (The Elenium Book 3)