18 December 2010

Book Review Number 18: Anvil of the Sun by Anne Lesley Groell

This is one of my favorite series of all time.  It's a good sword-and-sorcery romp, involving two budding members of the Assassins Guild, the Cloak and the Dagger.  The Cloak is a tall, plain man of peasant stock name Thibault who is one of the only people that can keep his partner, aristocrat Jennifleur, reigned in.  In this first story, Jen & Thib are going rogue.  While Jen has always wanted to follow her aunt into the Hestian Guild, she needed to finish school first (thanks to a promise that her aunt made to Jen's mother on the mother's death bed).  While she was gone, Thib was apprenticed as (I believe) a carpenter.  But now Jen is back and Thib has been recalled to meet her ship since her aunt, the famous assassin, the Hawk, is on assignment.  She expects to be back soon, but that is before she is double-crossed and captured.  As soon as Jen finds out, she convinces Thib to "go rogue" with her (which is what they call working outside of a guild contract).  They've both been trained well by Vera, Jen's aunt, but technical training isn't everything.  The two of them arrive in Ashkahron only to run over the paths of Vera (who has escaped but is thought to have been hanged) and two other operatives, the Falcon and the Hound.  In some ways, it's a wonderful comedy of errors as each misses the other by moments and confuses everyone's parts.  But it's also a great opening for the Cloak and the Dagger.

I LOVE the characters in this book.  Jen is a character I'd love to play in an RPG, being so impetuous and full of spunk.  And Thib is the kind of guy I wish I had for a big brother. Vera and Owen (the head of the Hestian Guild) are a wonderful pair and Absalom the mage is a wonderful bit of enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in bacon.  If you like sword and sorcery, if you like adventure, and if assassins don't squick you (though there's nothing gory in the book), then I recommend the series.  I just wish she were writing more of them because I'd love to see what happens to Jen & Thib next!