A Tale of Adventure in the World Beyond
This book - though you wouldn't guess it from the book jacket - is the middle book in a trilogy. (I guess they're afraid they'll sell fewer copies if you know that.) The first book is Beyond the Gap, and the last is The Golden Shrine.
As this book begins, the Rulers - a nomadic people who believe themselves destined to rule all other "herd"-type men - have emerged through the glacial gap and are conquering all before them. They have the advantages of war mammoths and superior magic.
Count Hamnet Thyssen, exile from the Empire, is resisting the invasion as best he can, aided by a few friends and the remnants of the Three Tusk Clan of the Bizogots (Viking-like nomads). He attempted to warn the Empire of the coming danger, and was forced into exile for his troubles.
Can the Rulers be stopped from slaughtering the Bizogots and conquering the Empire? Can their magicians be countered? Is there a remedy to their mammoth cavalry? And is Count Thyssen's love life doomed?
This novel is a mix of travel adventure and war story, and improves on the first book with a nice variety of action. There is also a romantic subplot, though I didn't find it as interesting as the first novel.
The plot is implausible, but when has that ever stopped a fantasy author? Yes, after an incredible adventure, the heroes will stumble upon the solution to their problems.
This is the best book of the trilogy, with more action than the plodding first volume, and better written than the appalling third book.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .