REVIEW: UPRISING / AUTHOR: SARAH CAWKWELL / PUBLISHER: ABADDON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Ever since Sarah Cawkwell’s Warhammer tie-in novel Valkia The Bloody, we’ve been keen to see what she can create freed from the constraints of franchise fiction. Uprising is a rather fine example of the author unleashed. It’s an exciting blend of fantasy and alternate history. In this world, Richard the Lionheart brought magic to England following the Crusades. Initially this transformed and improved lives but by the time history gets round to Richard the Third and the Battle of Bosworth, things take a darker turn. This is thanks to an unwise pact that allows the Plantagenet line to rule the land, but taints their bloodline in a way that threatens the whole world. By the time we get to 1590, magic users are being hunted down and exterminated by a rather nasty cadre of Inquisitors, who carry all sorts of horrid toys made by the kingdom’s finest scientists.
The bulk of the tale focuses on two young lovers, Mathis and Tagan. Both are skilled in magic and are lucky enough to live in a secluded Welsh village that encourages the use of the art. Inevitably the Inquisition turn up and events thrust the two heroes into a high speed tour of the more mystical parts of Europe. This also gives the Plantagenet king the excuse he needs to declare war on France and things get rapidly more exciting from that point on.
Cawkwell has constructed a neat and engaging fantasy world, we have a nice blend of strange technologies and stranger magic. There are no subplots here, each element of the tale is as vital and important as each other, from the relationship between Mathis and Tagan to the growing desperation of the High Inquisitor. This is a fast-paced and cinematic adventure tale and, though there is plenty of characterisation, the main character here is the action.
Uprising is a strong start to what we hope will be an ongoing series, Heirs of the Demon King. The book does an excellent job of painting a rich and entertaining fantasy world and we look forward to seeing more.