David M. Allan's The Empty Throne was published by Elsewhen Press in a digital edition in August 2018 and the paperback edition was published in October 2018.
Information about David M. Allan:
David got hooked on reading at a young age by borrowing to the max - 3 books, twice a week - from the public library. He was caught up and transported to fabulous other worlds by the likes of Wells, Verne and Burroughs (and later by Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, Le Guin, Wyndham…). Alas, the journeys were temporary and he had to return to Earth.
His love affair with science fiction and fantasy had him thinking vaguely about writing but he didn’t follow through until after retirement and his relocation, with wife and cat, to a houseboat on the Thames. It was reading one book which he didn’t think was very good that led him to say “I could do better than that” and then setting out to prove it. David has since had a number of short stories published in online magazines, but The Empty Throne will be his first published novel.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about The Empty Throne:
Three thrones, one of metal, one of wood and one of stone, stand in the Citadel. Between them shimmers a gateway to a new world, created four hundred years ago by the three magicians who made the thrones. When hostile incorporeal creatures came through the gateway, the magicians attempted to close it but failed. Since that time the creatures have tried to come through the gateway at irregular intervals, but the throne room is guarded by the Company of Tectors, established to defend against them. To try to stop the creatures, expeditions have been sent through the gateway, but none has ever returned.
On each throne appears an image of one of the Custoda, heroes who have led the expeditions through the gateway. While the Custoda occupy the thrones the gateway remains quiet and there are no incursions. Today, Dhanay, the newest knight admitted to the Company, is guarding the throne room. Like all the Tectors, Dhanay looks to the images of the Custoda for guidance.
But the Throne of Stone is empty. The latest incursion has started; a creature escaping into the world, a kulun capable of possessing and controlling humans.
The provincial rulers, the oldest and most powerful families, ignore the gateway and the Tectors, concentrating on playing politics and pursuing their own petty aims. Some even question the need for the Company, as incursions have been successfully contained within the Citadel for years. Family feuds, border disputes, deep-rooted rivalries and bigotry make for a potentially unstable world, and are a perfect environment for a kulun looking to create havoc…
REVIEW: THE EMPTY THRONE BY DAVID M. ALLAN
David M. Allan's The Empty Throne is an intriguing debut fantasy novel, because it's a high fantasy novel that contains elements of epic fantasy, adventure fantasy and portal fantasy. It's an entertaining novel for readers who are interested in fantastical and light escapism.
The Empty Throne was a positive reading experience for me, because the story moves swiftly forward and the author keeps up a steady pace. As the events began to unfold and I found out what happens in the world and on the other side of the Gateway, the story grew on me.
One of the best things about this novel is that it's a standalone novel, so readers don't have to wait for sequels. Reading a standalone novel was nice for a change, because it normally takes at least a year (and sometimes much longer) for a sequel to be released.
Here's a bit of information about how the story begins:
Dhanay is awakened by his friend Adronyk who tells him that he has been summoned and may not speak before he is given permission. He is led to the Mester's Hall. He is given the opportunity to become a Tector by surviving the ordeal. His mind is examined and he is told to do a seemingly simple thing, which turns out to be much harder than he thought, but he survives it and takes the oath. Dhanay does his first watch in the throne room solo, because it's a tradition. When he watches the Thrones, he notices that the Throne of Stone is empty and an incursion has started. As a result of the incursion, a kulun escapes into the world...
When I began to read the story, I noticed that it has a classic and traditional feel to it. Because this kind of fantasy stories are a bit rare nowadays, it was nice to read it. (I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this kind of fantasy and love traditional fantasy fiction.)
The history of the Gateway was fascinating, because things went badly wrong after it had been created. The Gateway opened a way to another world from which hostile creatures began to come to the world. It couldn't be destroyed and it stayed open.
The world beyond the Gateway is described well. What lies on the other side is in many ways different from the Lands of the Tenancy. There are plenty of dangerous creatures beyond the Gateway, because there are many varieties of them and they're not friendly towards humans. Time moves differently there, and food is also different and doesn't taste the same.
Much of the fascination of this novel comes from the author's way of writing about what the Tectors do and how they protect the world. They're trained men who protect the world from the creatures and stop the incursions when they occur before anything bad happens.
The ordeal that Dhanay has to complete and survive is an interesting and essential part of the story. Its purpose is to test Dhanay's resolve. During the ordeal, he is tempted by romance, power and family loyalty.
I was surprised to find a coming of age tale in this novel, because I didn't expect it. One part of the story focuses on Dhanay's cousin, Petowyn, who has to prove to others that he is not a coward. If he is to be recognised as an heir, he has to get rid of the stigma of being a coward. He has already been trained by his father in the duties and responsibilities of an Incep, but has not been officially recognised as an heir.
I was also intrigued to find out that romance is part of the storyline. I won't reveal what kind of romantic elements this novel has, but I can mention that I enjoyed reading about them. They lightened the story in a good way.
It was interesting for me to read about how possession by a kulun was handled in the story. The author writes fluently about what happens to a person when he is possessed, because a kulun takes full control of his body. He also tells of what happens when a person is capable of resisting a kulun, because the body and mind can be shared.
David M. Allan's The Empty Throne is intriguing fantasy entertainment, because it combines action, adventure, magic and politics in an entertaining way. If you enjoy classic and traditional fantasy with heroes, gateways, romance and fast-paced storytelling, this novel will be of interest to you. It's good and fun escapism for those who want to take a break from the reality.