Times are troubled in the lands of Taratamia and Karenia (the Opal Kingdom and the Pearl Realm). Old enmities surface and mighty battles are in the offing. Brave Captain Tallis escorts a royal bride to her wedding,but will the groom be present? Will he,too,find undying love along the way? And what of the feisty
tomboy Barbel,who will stop at nothing to join the army and follow her Captain? All the while lustful young men meet their fates at the hands of the evil,power-hungry Queen Malkar,their life and youth stoking the very soul of evil....something dark,shape-shifting and drawn from the depths...
Welcome to the world of "The Captain's Witch",brilliant novelist Rosemary Hawley Jarman's stunning contribution to fantasy literature. One truly remarkable aspect of this densely plotted tale is how soon we forget,after perusing the map in the preface and diving into the prose,that it is set in a land of the imagination drawn from her vividly active psyche,and not some tract on a past time (in)glorious,so real do the events feel,it's as if we are reading an alternate history that never was,but should have been. Via descriptive writing of victory or violence,desires and dreams,devilry and dark deeds,even flower and fauna,landscape and light,we never question the truth. Her characters live,breathe,act true to their natures,follow their hearts,sometimes perilously,meet savage ends or work for a better
future (well,most of them...) The first half sets the scene and canters gloriously,the latter hits a galloping stride and never looks back for two hundred pages,drawing us into a pure maelstrom of activity,battles and oft-shocking revelations; there are a couple of carefully guarded secrets that,when detonated,feel like a bomb resonating through the text,and brace yourselves for the climax,as exciting and skilful as any novel in recent memory! Lyrical moments of love and grace,punctuated by scenes of unbearable cruelty (take a bow,Senor Zairopo),including one sequence of mass midnight-deflowering that appears to have tumbled from the pages of De Sade's "Salo",
or Pasolini's film of same!
Truly,this exquisite tome cannot be recommended highly enough. Malkar sitting in her court of illusions,terrifying,
ethereal...the beautiful Lilene,on trial and her life in danger (she speaks no treason).Sample Ms Jarman's great,earlier,
"earthbound" historical novels,and then see her move into this
realm,imagination as detailed and rampant as the Lion of War.
As novelist Tanith Lee describes this,"one of the greatest dark fantasies ever written in any genre",and who am I to argue?
A sequel beckons,and not before time,please....