Heir of Autumn is the first book of a fantasy series. This not only the first book in the series, but also the first book written by these authors. First novels always seem to be at least a little awkward. The writer or writers haven’t quite hit the tone they were aiming for, the prose or dialog might be a little stiff, the pacing might be off. Even if the writer has previously been published, the first novel is often immediately recognizable as a first novel. It is sometimes difficult for me to like a first book for these reasons, and I think that might be part of the reason I did not like this particular book.
Our Hero is a naïve young man named Brophy who ends up on an impromptu hero’s journey when he is framed for murder by the dying words of his not-actually-best-friend Trent. Brophy is the magical scion of a city that is essentially squatting on the outer border of another kingdom. Because of various machinations which include one of the other magical scions marrying a prince of the country resentful of their squatting, the city has not been destroyed.
Due to other complicated details of the plot, we do not actually get to the actual hero’s journey until we are about halfway through the book. Most of the book involves the slow discovery of the prince’s efforts to undermine the city and conquer it from within. Another side plot involves a sorceress who discovers that the sorcerer who runs her school is working with the prince to destroy the city. Unfortunately, she is not really able to act to warn anyone because the sorcerer already has complete control over her, which she finds out when she tries to fight him and ends up spending several chapters being assaulted and mind-controlled by him. Yet another side plot involves four missing magical scions and a small child who is being used to bind an unspeakable evil.
I was not really able to get into this book, which had a few interesting moments but mostly seemed like a train wreck. I had very little sympathy for any of the characters and did not really care for the world building involved with the story. (The writers were trying too hard to make the city seem like the most wonderful place ever, even though there were clearly major problems. Meanwhile, all of the countries outside were various levels of horrific.) Another, much lesser reason for my dislike was the way that the authors inexplicably decided to refer to a woman who was neither deaf nor mute as a “deaf-mute.”