The Chronicles of Ealiron is a fantasy series written by F.T. McKinstry, set in a world where an order of wizards maintain the balance of nature through an intricate system of magic and gods. The first book of the series is The Hunter’s Rede, which we’re looking at today.
Lorth of Ostarin is an assassin who lives by a series of rules known as the Hunter’s Rede, using skill and magic to take down his targets without a trace. But when accused of a murder he didn’t commit, he is brought before the lords of the land to face judgment and execution. Matters escalate when he learns more about his mentor and his past, and becomes embroiled in a political match that threatens to become all-out war. To find his balance and clear his name, Lorth must tread further into darkness–and bring his enemies down with him.
The first thing that struck me about Hunter’s Rede is the suspense, best shown through our protagonist. In the beginning and toward the end, we’re treated to several sequences of Lorth as both a hunter and magic-user, trying to outwit his opponents and make sense of the chaos he’d involved in. The magic system itself is fleshed-out and creative, using patterns and divine interventions to provide for a wide range of uses without turning into a heavy-handed plot device. And the Hunter’s Rede also makes several appearances in the story, as Lorth uses various rules to react to different situations, sometimes helpfully and sometimes not.
With that said, I found Lorth to be less interesting than the woman he gets involved with. After being captured and falsely accused, he encounters the Mistress of Eusiron, a high priestess who is married to a god and wields significant political authority. She seems like a femme fatale at first glance, but proves to be a more sympathetic and mature character later on. Her relationship with Lorth provides both levity and heartbreak throughout the story.
However, the politics of the story did not draw me in. Whenever the story turned to the conflict between countries like Faerin and Tarth and Os–unless it was a fight scene between Lorth and Faerin soldiers–the plot would slow down. The suspense would turn to dry exposition as characters had long dialogues on who stabbed who in the back, which god spurned the affections of which mortal, and so on and so forth. But fortunately the rest of the intrigue moves well.
At the end of the day, The Hunter’s Rede is a thriller set in a magical realm, where wizards and hunters lay traps for one another, and where the word of either a god or a mortal can mean the difference between life and death.
Bibliography: McKinstry, F.T. The Hunter’s Rede (The Chronicles of Ealiron, Book One). Markham, Ontario: Double Dragon Publishing, 2011.