The Joined Realm
The Joined Realm opens with Bellamy, an Arch Legate, investigating the disappearance of water from an aquifer he controls. Those who are not fond of reading about officials with inflated opinions of themselves and little care for mercy will be glad that the prologue is only an introduction to the world and that the story moves along to the true protagonist, Arlon. Arlon is prince of the land, heir to the throne, and a boy who wants nothing more than to survive his cruel stepmother’s attempts to remove him from the line of succession. Sound like a typical fantasy novel? Well, good news, fellow fantasy fans. This book is a magnificent reminder of what the genre can be, telling a new story in a way that will be familiar to anyone who grew up devouring the SFF section of their library.
Arlon’s story begins in the middle of the night. Unable to sleep, he sneaks out of his bed to the library, looking for some book to bore him into a doze. There, however, he comes across Artemis-Silver, the howler who accompanied Bellamy in the prologue and who is now searching for a particular book, one which proves not to be in the library. Baffled by the encounter, Arlon makes his way to the chambers of Kostas, the Chief Archivist, where we learn that Arlon’s mother passed on a mysterious birthright from her family: a rune which rests upon his chest. What exactly the rune does is unknown, but it is enough to put Arlon in danger and hint at a phenomenal story to follow.
And Vane certainly delivers in this promise. It doesn’t take long for Lady Beatice, Arlon’s stepmother, to strike, and soon Arlon must flee for his life in the company of Artemis-Silver. His journey will take him away from the safety of the world he knows into a land where water is scarce and life is far harsher than he can imagine.