The Sorcerers’ Plague
Grinsa, who nearly single-handedly won the war of the Forelands, has been banished because he is a Weaver, a Qirsi who can wield many magics. He and his family seek only peace and a place to settle down. But even on the distant southern continent, they can’t escape the tension between his magical folk and the non-magical Eandi. Instead of peace, they find a war-ravaged land awash in racial tension and clan conflicts. Worse yet, his own people try to harness his great power and destroy his family.
Amid the high tension of clan rivalry comes a plague that preys on Qirsi power across the Southlands with deadly results. When the disease is linked to an itinerant woman peddling baskets, one old man takes it upon himself to find answers in the secrets of her veiled past.
The world that David B. Coe uses in Blood of the Southlands is similar to that used in Winds of the Forelands. Coe again re-uses two races; the magic wielding white haired Qirsi and the non-magic, dark-eyed Eandi. But in the Blood of the Southlands series a third race is introduced; a magic wielding Eandi race known as the Mettai who are a “bridge” between the Qirsi and Eandi (though Qirsi and Mettai magic differs). This introduction of a third race adds a great deal more depth to the story.
Although Coe uses magic in his stories he does not over-emphasise on it but uses it in a rather a clever way, adding flavour to the story. The emphasis in The Sorcerers’ Plague is more on the interactions and politics between and involving the races. There are several separate storylines being told with the main focus being on Lici and her plan to get her revenge on the Y’Qatt, a Qirsi clan of the Southlands who refuse to use their magic. The secondary storyline involves Besh, a Mettai who grew up in the same village as Lici and when she disappears Besh tries to find out what happened and slowly unravels Lici’s dark past. The third storyline involves Grinsa, Cresenne and Bryntelle, who fled the Forelands and now try to begin anew in the Southlands but find out that it is not what they wished for. Coe uses good variation in his storytelling by switching from first person to narrator and this makes for a lively story. I personally liked the journal paragraphs about Lici’s past, and when Besh discovered them I really began to sympathise with Lici and with her reasons for revenge. In some chapters Coe switches from the normal cast of the characters to the inhabitants of the Y’Qatt village and how they experienced the revenge of Lici – this was done in a brilliant manner that gave me a really eerie feeling, because, as a reader you know what is going to happen.
What did struck me as kind of annoying is the introduction of Grinsa to The Sorcerers’ Plague. He was the main character in Winds of the Forelands and I do not know why Coe introduced him and I think the story might have been better off without him. Coe makes an excellent story with just the new continent Southlands and it inhabitants and I felt that the introduction of Grinsa was just something he came up with in the last moments. For me the parts which centre around Grinsa are slow-paced and kind of boring and really stall the impetus in The Sorcerers’ Plague.
The first book of the Blood of the Southlands is a good book and a fun to read story. It is not for everyone however, as there are no epic scale battles and fights and the book focuses more on the interaction and politics of the various races in the Southlands. And this is something which Coe manages wonderfully.