The Scrivener's Tale
by Fiona McIntosh
Cover Artist: Roman bridge by Mats Silvan / Getty Images; other images Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
Harper Voyager Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062237309
Date: 26 March 2013 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Fiona McIntosh has four trilogies, several set in Morgravia. The Scrivener’s Tale, a stand alone novel, is set in the same world. It shares many elements with other medieval fantasies featuring a kingdom and its queen in danger, an evil demon determined to exact revenge for past grievances, a triad of heroes, and a dragon. However, McIntosh twist these standard elements and adds a few surprises to keep the reader guessing until the end.
The novel begins with Gabriel Figaret in Paris. Once a psychologist who specialize in treating troubled youngsters, he withdraws for a time and refuses to practice after his wife and child die in an automobile accident. Now he works in a bookstore. A customer who knows his background approaches him to treat a troubled young woman. At first, Gabe refuses, but eventually agrees to see her. He finds her strangely attractive, but deluded. She insists he kill her to reach Morgravia where the beloved cathedral of his dreams exists. Strange forces are at work, and he ends in Morgravia carrying in his mind, the spirits of two demons.
Another young man has trained all his life to toughen his body, mind, and spirit to become the Queen’s champion. He belongs to a brotherhood whose goal is to protect the throne and basically has a license to kill. His specific mission is to destroy for all time the demon Cyricus and his servant Aphra. Fynch, a dweller in The Wild and bonded to the dragon, calls him to his mission and provides him with enchanted weapons.
Meanwhile, the Queen and her spoiled sister Darcelle spar with one another over Darcelle's coming marriage and her sometimes outrageous behavior. Their stepmother always favored Darcelle and dislikes the Queen. Exiled to a remote monastery, she still schemes. Darcelle's husband-to-be, comes on a royal visit, but arrives after assassins try to kill the Queen and kill the stepmother in that attempt.
Cassien, the Queens Champion, gathers allies to fight Cyricus including Ham, a young boy with unusual talents. The exciting climax reveals long held secrets about Gabe, Cassien, and Ham.
Readers of the previous Morgravia trilogies will welcome this adventure. Others, unfamiliar with them, may find the storyline confusing at times. McIntosh delivers fantasy, romance, and excitement sufficient to satisfy most readers.