“You stand at the beginning of a great journey. An adventure to rival any of those in these
books around us. You ride upon the tide of history… you are a legend in the making.”
– Seven Princes by John R. Fultz
Set in a sprawling world saturated with dark magic and inhabited by giants, humans, and a vast array of fantastical creatures, the novel begins with the realm on the verge of war. An ancient sorcerer named Elhathym has returned and, after a necromantic bloodbath, has usurped the throne of Yaskatha. Prince D’zan barely escapes with his life and accompanied by his father’s loyal general, Olthacus the Stone, he sets out to somehow avenge his father’s death and claim the throne as his own.
Meanwhile, far to the north, the giant king Vod – a living legend and ruler of New Udurum, the City of Men and Giants, has shocked his family by announcing that he will set out on a journey to repay an old debt, a journey that he may very well not return from.
Fultz’s fluid, lyrical writing style and meticulous attention to detail make for a gloriously immersive read. Literally every single page is filled with some kind of vibrant description. Here are just a few random examples:
• “They wore the furs of mammoth, bear, tiger, and wolf, white as snow or dyed to shades of crimson and black. Rusted spikes adorned the iron helms of male and female warriors. Their spears were taller than their heads, and tipped with frozen blades. Enormous broadswords hung on wide belts of sealskin. Ice and frost hung in the mens’ beards, in the braided tresses of the women, and their breath did not turn to vapor when they exhaled, for their bodies were as cold as the ice itself…”
• “An ancient plain, dotted with the raging fires of war. Shaggy men rush upon each other with stone axes, clubs, and their own gnashing fangs. Blood spills like rain across the blackened earth. Women flee from savage oppressors, brought down like forest deer. Children perish like blossoms trampled beneath the feet of red-handed primitives. Along the horizon, strange piles of stone rise toward the moon, the early temples of some dark god…”
But there is also a real depth to this narrative. Fultz weaves philosophy, allegory, and symbolism into the richly described storyline to create a read that not only entertains but also enchants and edifies. His extended – and varied – use of the color red, for example, works on an almost subconscious level: from the red lips of women to the hallucinogenic bloodflower and its Red Dream to crimson rivers of blood spilled during conflicts.
• “Music and wine flowed through the heart of the palace like blood through a living man’s body…”
• “Pupils as red as fresh-flowing blood…”
• “…the Prince and Empress of Khyrei entered its streets in a haze of crimson glory. The red river was indeed sweet. And so very deep.”
The philosophical element was a bit more subtle but powerful nonetheless.
• “…justice can sometimes only be found at the end of a sword.”
• “…it matters not when a man dies, but how he dies.”
• “It is not enough to be strong. You must be wise in your strength.”
• “Whatever we believe… is our reality.”
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t gone into specifics about the storyline – and I'm not going to. Suffice it to say that there is a lot going on here – there isn’t really one main storyline: it’s a tapestry of storylines that create this story. It’s a wondrous read filled with countless jaw-dropping plot twists and I would hate to diminish anyone’s experience by revealing something inadvertently. And even though this is the first book in a trilogy, the conclusion is immensely satisfying and sets the stage for a grand-scale story that could rival the very best fantasy sagas on the shelves today.
The bottom line is this: Fultz's debut novel is flawless – and timeless – epic fantasy. For fans of epic fantasy, Seven Princes is as good as it gets.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!
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