Anselm Audley was eighteen in June 2000. Having studied at Millfield School, he is now at St John's College, Oxford, taking a course in Ancient and Modern History. He lives in Dorset.
Though merchant houses and noble clans hold political power in the land of Aquasilva, the priests and holy warriors of the Domain exercise a religious monopoly over the beliefs of the people. When Cathan Tauro, a young nobleman, accidentally discovers a conspiracy by the Domain to extend its tyrannical grasp even further, he realizes that his only hope for survival lies in starting a revolution. Nineteen-year-old Audley's first novel launches an epic trilogy set in a world in which magic and religion vie for precedence. The author's skill at portraying young people caught up in world-shaking events should appeal to YA readers as well as general fantasy fans. For most fantasy collections. [From Simon & Schuster U.K., Audley received one of the largest advances ever paid to a new British fantasy author. Ed.] Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publicists aren't doing Audley a favor by stressing how young he is (19) and comparing him to Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin. Expectant readers will find a competent, appealing but rather standard sword-and-super-science tale. On Aquasilva, a water-planet with physical laws that vary somewhat from Earth's, society is split into rival cities and clans. A fanatical priesthood tries to keep control by murdering all who don't worship its elemental god, but the heretics organize devious counterplots and train young people in "magic" mind powers that use natural elements. The narrator, Cathan, is a young nobleman who just happens to be a phenomenally gifted natural mage, able to manipulate several elements at once. Audley successfully suggests a complex society through a bewildering mass of historical and political details, but he's less adept at showing how the society actually functions. In particular, it's hard to imagine how hand weapons have developed only as far as swords and crossbows while high-tech submarines launch "flame lances" and torpedoes at each other. He's also better, so far, at presenting characters frozen in uncertain pondering than he is at describing direct action. Still, the size and scope of this novel demonstrate Audley's energy and ambition. It will be interesting to see how his characters explore Aquasilva in subsequent books. At the very least, a 20-something's second novel won't be burdened with the extravagant hype of a teenager's first. Agent, James Hale. (Sept. 11) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.