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Blood of Ambrose by James Enge
Cover Artist: Dominic Harman
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781591027362
Date: 21 April 2009 List Price $15.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

James Enge interweaves two coming of age stories: one of the three-hundred-year old wizard Morelock Ambrosius and the other of King Lathmar VII, a boy of twelve, in his novel Blood of Ambrose. The Protector, Lathmar's uncle who acts as regent, disposed of the boy's parents and those loyal to him. His grandmother, Ambrosia Viviana, schemes to preserve Lathmar and the empire of Ontilia. Sister of Morelock and daughter of Merlin, she married Uthar the Great and founded the dynasty of which Lathmar is the last descendant.

The citizens want a strong leader, but fear to have a child on the throne. Such a man, the ruthless Protector, hungry for power, wants to rule in his own right. He captures Ambrosia and sentences her to death. Morelock, too often a drunken sot, must save his sister by defeating a golem without the use of magic. The contest takes all his cunning and swordsmanship.

Lathmar, Ambrosia, Morelock, and Morelock's apprentice the dwarf Wyrtheorn hide from the Protector who in their absence consolidates his control over the city. They plot to defeat the Protector and return Lathmar to the throne with Ambrosia as Regent. The Protector and his troops defeat them at every turn.

While not a wizard, Lathmar has the ability to See, that is, he can access the spirit realm, but not manipulate it. He and his allies discover the Protector has forged an alliance with an evil sorcerer who creates golems, devours the wills and souls of living people, and promised the Protector immortality. This places the fantasy among others with good vying with evil.

Lathmar is captured and taken to a stone tower girded by thorns and with an entrance far above the ground in the cursed Old City, once the capital of the empire. Imprisoned in the tower, Lathmar despairs of escape. He must find a way to free himself despite golems, gargoyles, the tower itself, and the evil being who claims Ambrosia as his grandmother and puts forth his claim to be the rightful heir to the throne.

Battles against the Protector and the sorcerer provide plenty of excitement and keep the pages turning. Despite bravery and fierce responses, victory remains in doubt.

Animals add interesting variations. Crows long ago agreed to a treaty with Morelock and help in a variety of ways. Velox, an old warhorse Morelock gives the ability to fly, adds excitement and humor, especially when he takes off on his own.

Merlin, father of Morelock and Ambrosia, also appears, but his role remains unclear. The last chapter begins with Merlin raising the prospects of a possible sequel. Inconsistencies and coincidence raise questions not resolved.

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