The Horsemen’s Gambit
Tirnya, an accomplished swordswoman and military leader, burns with her people’s shame. A century past, the magical Qirsi drove them from Deraqor, forcing them to resettle in Qalsyn. Her father, though a prominent lord, can never rule their adopted land and refuses to even speak of what they have lost. Yet she knows that given a chance, he would gladly fight to reclaim their homeland. Now their long-time antagonists, felled by a mysterious plague that turns their magic against them, are vulnerable as never before.
She could bring glory back to Deraqor at the risk of destroying the life her people have built in their adopted land. Tirnya stands at a crossroads, poised to reclaim her birth right… or face death at the hands of their ancient adversaries.
The introductory chapters of David B. Coe’s The Horsemen’s Gambit left me feeling a little distant as I found difficulty in relating them directly to the world of the Southlands and the first book, The Sorcerers’ Plague. Instead Coe introduces a new cord into his Blood of the Southlands series that he then tightly weaves into the existing story. We are introduced to Tirnya, a captain of the armies of the Lord Governor and her father, Jenoe the Marshall who is, after much pushing from Tirnya, going to try and reclaim their heritage. Meanwhile Lici, the Mettai sorceress who produced the cursed baskets that brought pestilence upon the Qirsi, is being sought out by two men, Besh and Sirj, from her village. Grinsa is also forced (by the leader of a Qirsi) to seek out Lici in order to win his and Cresenne’s freedom. As the book progresses the storylines of Besh, Sirj and Grinsa converge and produce a most unexpected ending.
While the emphasis of The Sorcerers’ Plague was on Lici she plays only a small supporting role in The Horsemen’s Gambit (although her actions are still the main cause of the sequence of events). I really enjoyed how Coe used Lici’s actions to create an intricately woven plot also involving Tirnya and her father – this made me really appreciate his talent for storytelling. The tensions between the Qirsi, Eandi and Mettairemain remain as palpable in The Horsemen’s Gambit as they were in The Sorcerers’ Plague, and the book delves into the history the caused these frictions, with it is explained that an Eandi peddler was taken captive by the Qirsi and assumed an accomplish of Lici of selling cursed baskets. This passage is excellent as it helped to further explain the outbreak of pestilence and it had me glued to the pages, eager to find out what was going to happen. This really was storytelling at its very best.
The Horsemen’s Gambit is a great sequel to The Sorcerers’ Plague and Coe really takes his time in creating a rich and complex plot that fully rewards the reader. I cannot wait until the third and final book, The Dark-Eyes War, comes out.