Angus Wells is perhaps best-known for his trilogies, "The Godwars"
and "Book of the Kingdoms." With Lords of the Sky, he proves his
ability to spin a satisfying fantasy in a single volume.
Lords of the Sky is the memoir of Daviot, a Mnemonikos of
Dharbek gifted with good recall and hand-picked to be trained to
enhance that gift. The story begins with Daviot's first
sighting of the Sky Lords at age twelve in the tiny fishing village of
his birth. The Kho'rabi, original inhabitants of Dharbek, have been
coming in their airboats every fifty years when the Worldwinds
change to fight to reclaim their native land. But the Sky Lords have
developed new powerful magic that allows them to come even against the
winds, and the sorcerers of Dharbek are pushed to the limits of their
resources in countering their sworn enemies.
When Daviot goes to Durbrecht to study at the Mnemonikos College, he
meets and falls utterly in love with a beautiful blind sorceress.
Their relationship is forbidden, and when duty calls Daviot and his
beloved Rwyan in opposite directions, both believe they are lost
forever to one another.
After his first year wandering Dharbek as a Storyman, Daviot is
convinced that the Changed (people created from animals by Dhar
sorcerors long ago as fodder for the presumably extinct dragons)
are as human as he and other Truemen. He discovers that the Changed
have a society as fully striated as that of Truemen. Daviot has made
friends with many Changed, but is torn by the guilt of not revealing
to his superiors his witness of a meeting between Kho'rabi and Changed.
A twist of fate involving a captured Sky Lord with amnesia brings
Daviot and Rwyan together. As they sail back to Durbrecht with the
Sky Lord, the ship's Changed crew mutinies and takes Daviot, Rwyan
and Tezdal the Kho'rabi to the Ur-Dharbek, the ancient land of dragons
where "wild" Changed flee to live free of Truemen oppression. In
Ur-Dharbek, Kho'rabi and Changed plot to conquer the Truemen of Dharbek,
and only an ancient, almost-forgotten magic can prevent the massive
bloodshed of all-out war.
Lords of the Sky is a richly layered fantasy. The society of the
story and the land's history are clearly drawn without resorting to
clumsy expository interruptions. Daviot, the point-of-view character,
is a likable nonconformist whose beliefs will make possible a shining
peace in place of bloody war. The elements of sword and sorcery are
fully in place as background without being the whole story. The
novel's weakest link is between the first two-thirds and final third,
but the story is strong enough to make it through the transition intact.
All in all, Lords of the Sky makes Angus Wells a fantasy writer worth