Realms of Glory, Realms of Death by Sandra Kopp

Valhalea lies in ruins, the victim of sorcerer Lucius Mordarius’ wrath. In the black forests of Barren-Fel Ryadok, a rival sorcerer possessing a weapon capable of leveling the continent, snakes his destructive tentacles across Epthelion. Amid the chaos Destiny unites five unlikely allies: an ostracized mystic and his younger brother; a tradesman and a battle-hardened mercenary; and the daughter of a murdered nobleman–each a thorn in a sorcerer’s side and marked for death. Battling nature’s wrath, the sorcerers’ relentless pursuit, and a land notorious for devouring its inhabitants, they find temporary sanctuary only to be thrust to opposite ends of Epthelion–the girl to the west where she falls into the hands of the blood-thirsty Horse Lords; and the men into the dark reaches of the shadowy east. Victory is essential; defeat spells certain death for their world. The girl must survive the Horse Lord’s brutality and rally them to her aid in defeating Mordarius while the mystic races to destroy Ryadok before his sweeping holocaust.

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I was given a digital copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Sandra!

Realms of Glory, Realms of Death is an epic fantasy which takes place in the land of Epthelian, where an evil sorceror, Ryadok is gradually taking over the land, having his puppet apprentice, Lucius Mordarius brutally slay anyone who dares to get in the way. The fast-paced action of this novel begins immediately, in the town of Atwall, as we witness the fate of the father and mother of Merewyn Havalseth, who is made to watch as they are slain. Then Lucius, her evil cousin, cuts off her hair and forces her into slavery at the stable. Merewyn is one of the main characters and following her dramatic escape from slavery, we meet the other main characters, a band of four gallant and noble heroes who decide to help keep her safe from Lucius’s soldiers and to look after her on the road until they have to go their separate ways. The exciting pace of the novel continues as the main characters race away from soldiers into a horrifying storm and have to cross an impossible river, almost losing their horses and each other in the process.

Merewyn is a feisty, badass young woman in a typically man’s world, determined to seek revenge against Lucius for her family’s murder, whereas the four noble heroes, Charles, Hans, Arron and Davon are searching for a satanic beast brought forth from Hell by Ryadok, which is terrorising the countryside killing and terrifying people and animals alike. The tension rises when Merewyn realises the beast is close to her and it becomes almost unbearable as we await her fate:

The beast resembled a gigantic wolf with the head of a wild boar. Massive muscles rippled under shaggy black fur that leaped and shimmered like tongues of liquid fire. Savage claws protruded from great paws easily twice the size of a man’s head, and double rows of fangs lined jaws as strong as a steel trap. A sharp foot-long tusk protruded from each side of its ravening mouth. Where eyes should have been, red slits burned with such concentrated evil Merewyn feared her heart would fail. It was almost upon her. . .

Arron and Davon are from Nimbia, which means they are magic users. Arron, in particular is a healer and powerful mystic who feels it is his destiny to take on Ryadok.

This is very much an old school epic fantasy with language to match: “Zounds!” is exclaimed by one of the heroes on at least two occasions. I found this charming. I liked the characters of Merewith, Charles and Arron very much, although Merewith was my favourite – who wouldn’t love a feisty badass young “maiden”, so determined to avenge her parents’ deaths that she trains and becomes one of the best warriors in the kingdom of Ha-Ran-Fel, in the process catching the eye of the king himself?

The worldbuilding is well-detailed and descriptive, with many different terrains encountered by the heroes as they journey towards Ryadok’s castle on their hunt for the beast known as the Destroyer:

Spicy fragrances mingled with the odors of rotting wood and duff permeated the dank air. Manes of moss and horsehair lichen cascaded from the branches, while pockets of bracken and oak fern choked every available space. Colorful but deadly fungus gripped many of the ancient trunks, which groaned and strained under lofty crowns swaying in the winds above.

I would recommend this book to any fantasy fans who are looking for a more traditional style of fantasy epic with battles, magic, an evil, villainous sorcerer king, quests, monsters and a touch of romance.

Sandra Kopp is an Idaho farm girl and voracious reader with a big imagination who decided to become a serious writer in 2003.  Her fascination with period homes led her to serve as a volunteer docent at the Pittock Mansion in Portland, OR and to help spearhead the restoration of the James A. Moore House in Pasco, WA after a 2001 fire left it heavily damaged and in danger of demolition.  Ironically, this fire and the spirits rumored to haunt the house inspired her book, THE WINDWILDER HAUNTING.  Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies inspired her own sword and sorcerer Epthelion trilogy: REALMS OF GLORY, REALMS OF DEATH (Book 1); RED DAWN, ETERNAL HOPE (Book 2); and TIDES INTO OBLIVION (Book 3).  Recently she released BELLA, the prequel to THE WINDWILDER HAUNTING, which is the tragic life story of the ghosts haunting Windwilder Mansion.  Currently she is preparing to release her Timothy Wonder children’s series and has a family saga and a Windwilder sequelin the works. When not writing, Sandra bicycles, hikes, and plays the accordion.

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