Year of Publication: 2000
Summary: In a fantasy world with flavors of The Lord of the Rings, The Mists of Avalon, and the Crystal Cave a boy named Jessex finds himself chosen to serve an immortal exiled king, Kirith Kirin, in the magic forest of Arthen. In the first ½ of the book, Jessex secretly learns magic from the mysterious Ladies of the Lake and falls in love with Kirith Kirin; there’s also a lot of exposition. In the second ½, there’s a lot of marching, a few battles, several magical fights with an evil wizard, a century of sleep, and a rather anti-climactic finish.
Thoughts: This book was loooong. It also showcases some of (what I think are) the worst mistakes in fantasy writing. It’s full of ridiculously unpronounceable names, spends waaaay too much time world-building, tells and tells and tells and rarely shows, and takes itself far too seriously. I did finish it, however, which means it wasn’t entirely unreadable (but I confess to a certain amount of skimming).
As for the main couple: For most of the book, Jessex is 15 and Kirith Kirin is an unknown age; but since he’s immortal, he’s at least hundreds, if not thousands of years old. Creepy. They also hardly spend any time together, and their interactions are sparingly described.
The book features many potentially strong supporting characters, but they are like rough sketches — never filled in or given much color — so it’s hard to care about any of them. Even Jessex, despite his progression from boy to powerful witch, has a basically flat personality. In all, the novel reads like a promising but adolescent first attempt at writing.