Twelve year-old Lathmar has lived an extremely sheltered life. That is, up until he recently became king. His parents, the former king and queen, died under “questionable circumstances” and his uncle, the Protector of the realm, plans a similar fate for him. Now, Lathmar’s only protection is his many-times-over great-grandmother Ambrosia. Guarding Lathmar’s escape, Ambrosia sends him after the one person who can save them, her infamous brother Morlock.
Mr. Enge has crafted unique and exciting tales that revolve around one of the coolest characters ever in fantasy. In fact, I think I just may have a man-crush on Morlock Ambrosius. (The last time I felt this way was for Joe Abercrombie’s Logen Ninefingers from The First Law.)
Morlock is the greatest magical Maker of this world and he is also a master swordsman. He’s a thaumaturge who has knowledge of all the arcane arts. Known as The Crooked Man — because of the family trait in which one shoulder is higher than the other — and many other names, Morlock is hated and feared throughout the land. His name is used to curse traitors. He talks to crows and wields a magic black sword called Tyrfing. Morlock has wandered this world of Laent for several centuries, an exile and a dry drunk. He’s clever, has a dry wit, and is always more than what he seems.
Blood of Ambrose is such a fun story to read. Enge is one of those rare authors whose style and prose is perfect for a fantasy — he has that ability to create language that sounds archaic but is still understandable and flows like a bard’s tale. The reader is surprised again and again with completely unpredicted plot twists or resolutions. Plus, Enge drops crafty little details of a relation between this story and Arthurian legend, which adds an enticingly rich back-story. As do the appendixes that detail the land of Laent, the deities, and the calendar and astronomy. The world is both strange and familiar to our own.
I can honestly say that I haven’t read anything quite like these tales about Morlock Ambrosius. The series is considered to be a new sword and sorcery tale: a fantasy story that revolves around a character instead of the kingdom-sized conflict of an epic. James Enge has earned himself another fan in this reviewer.
Note: I read the Amazon Kindle edition of Blood of Ambrose and felt I should comment that it’s the best e-book version I’ve read to date. It downloaded complete with the front and back covers, the illustrations, and even the interesting initial that starts each chapter.