The Immortal Prince
by Jennifer Fallon
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Danny Birt
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765316820
Date: 13 May 2008 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Despite being hanged for murder, Cayal's body refused to die. He wanted to die, actually – he had demanded a different type of execution, to no avail. However, no one would listen to a murderer who claimed he was a Tide Lord, and for good reason: the Tide Lords were figures of ancient myth, supposedly magic-wielding immortals. Yet, when Cayal tries to insist he be executed again, international politics make his captors leery of acquiescing to his wishes. Instead, the king's spymaster sends an unlikely interrogator to discredit the prisoner, the historian Duchess Arkady Desean.
Arkady's interrogation of Cayal becomes a comparison between what the modern world's myths say of Cayal, the Immortal Prince, and what the man Cayal asserts as his life story. The interrogation makes up much of the remainder of the book's first section, only to be interrupted by Cayal's freeing himself in a most unusual manner and kidnapping Arkady.
In the book's second, much shorter section, Cayal continues to try to convince the bullheaded Arkady of his immortality by telling her more of his past. His effort is accelerated by the Return of the Tide, the force that gives Tide Lords their magical powers – a force that has been absent from the planet for long enough for almost everyone to have forgotten the truth of the Tide Lords' existence.
Cayal is not the only Tide Lord to feel the return of his potency, though. Others of Cayal's family of immortals begin to reveal themselves and their machinations toward a return to power – the power to rule over humankind once more, and the power to avenge past grievances against one another. The last time the Tide returned, the Tide Lords' internecine struggles sent the world through a great Cataclysm, leaving millions dead and sending civilization back to the stone age.
In The Immortal Prince, Jennifer Fallon shows a knack for writing political struggles, authentic dialogue, and compelling characters. Her creation of the Crasii, human-animal hybrids magically created to be genetically servile, sets the book apart from other books in the genre. Also remarkable is the book's namesake character, whose ignobility is always on the verge of being redeemable throughout the story, never quite making it, yet hinting at the chance for redemption by the end of the series.
While undoubtedly well-written, the book has a tendency toward a lackadaisical pace due to three factors: the writing style is slightly wordy, plot points are repeated often, and the back-and-forth chapters between Cayal's past and Arkady's present never allow the story to gather steam. However, heavy use of foreshadowing throughout the book keeps the reader's interest, and the slower story pace allows for laudable character development.
With the world, characters, and plots of The Immortal Prince, Jennifer Fallon has set the scene for the development of an excellent fantasy series. This book is recommended for adult fantasy readers.