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In the Region of the Summer Stars
Eirlandia Book One
by Stephen R Lawhead
Tor, $25.99, 333 pages
Published: January 2019

Eirlandia, the island of small kingdoms, druids, bards, and warriors that will in later years be known as Ireland, has been ravaged by attacks, predations, and, worst of all, colonization by the sea-faring Scalda, who have laid claim to the southern reaches of the island, turning once green and well-watered land into a burned, barren waste. From their camps and fortified cities, the Scalda raid north, east and west, burning, looting, killing, and on rare occasions, kidnapping. Conor, a king’s son, witnesses one of these abductions, and realizes it is no mortal woman he sees carried off as prisoner, but one of the Fae.

Conor would be in line for inheritance and a king’s responsibility, except he was born with a birthmark that is deemed so unlucky that no one can be expected to follow him or heed him. And yet, he is smart, perceptive, courageous, and a skillful warrior; the few men — and the one lady — who trust and love him, know his real worth.

When Conor tries to warn the high king of treachery and peril, he is not only scoffed, he is beaten within an inch of his life. But so convinced he is of the threat to Eirlandia that he sets out to prove that Fae women are being targeted by the Scalda, and there is a terrible purposefulness directing their seemingly random raids.

Meanwhile, Conor’s youngest brother, Ronan, has been claimed by one of the roaming druid-bards who counsel kings, practice healing, and divine the future. His education is a thing apart from the usual training in war and statecraft a king’s son is expected to master. Ronan’s abilities are every bit as essential as Conor’s, if the Scalda are to be checked, and the Fae prisoners rescued.

Stephen Lawhead has written one of the most splendid, rousing, enthralling tale of historical fantasy it has ever been my pleasure to encounter. I eagerly await the sequel. ~~  Chris Wozney

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