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review by Porl Broome
The first book of Anselm Audley's Aquasilva Trilogy opens on the island of Lepidor, an island that has been scraping by for a long time but has just hit the big time following the discovery of iron deposits. Cathan, son of Lepidor's absent leader, is given the responsibility of sailing to more densely populated regions of Aquasilva in order to negotiate the export of the ore. In the process he is introduced to the mysterious members and activities of the Sacri, the Domain's mighty and incredibly powerful 'holy warriors'.
Heresy is one of those reads which is a bit of a chore to get through, and takes a bit of coaxing to get some enjoyment from - but it does have its merits. The story is original (if bearing distinct echoes of Frank Herbert's Dune series: inexperienced son of the ruler has to rise to achieve a greater divine destiny, etc), and the lead characters are very well illustrated. Once you get about a third into it, it also begins to tear along at a gripping pace, and features some intense encounters with the Domain's sinister inhabitants.
The religious aspects of the world are particular well drawn, which is just as well as these really form the fulcrum of the story - with the religions wielding the true 'power behind the throne'. This is where the sinister mood of the tale takes over, and the real quality of Audley's writing shines through - if the remaining instalments expand this aspect of the piece then it can't go very far wrong.
Unfortunately, dependence on the future instalments is where Heresy falls down. The greatest trilogies feature books that can be read alone, without prior knowledge of the other volumes, and in any order. Heresy really is just one third of the whole story, and the true value of the work won't be known until the two final books have been unleashed. But, as it stands, if epic adventure fantasy is your cup of tea then you could do a lot worse than to climb on board the Aquasilva trilogy at this point.
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