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David Feintuch, author of the popular science fiction series that began with Midshipman's Hope, has turned his efforts to doorstop fantasy. The Still is fairly generic medievaloid fantasy, notable mainly for good pacing, decent magic, and an appalling amount of self-pity and self-abasement on the part of the hero.
Rodrigo, Prince of Caledon, is a callow, vain, spoiled lout. When his mother the Queen dies, his uncle seizes power and declares himself Regent. Rodrigo flees for his life with his best friend, his little brother, and his old nurse, just ahead of an invading wave of northeners. His only hope of defeating both his uncle and the invaders lies in the Still, the mysterious magical power of the Kings of Caledon. But to wield the Still, Rodrigo must remain a virgin (a restriction that seems contrived for maximum angst), he must not lie, and he must be crowned King. And he'll have a difficult time convincing the nobles of the realm to crown him King when even his loyal followers are fed up with his attitude.
I think Feintuch went overboard in making Rodrigo such an insufferable snot; by the time he starts to become sufferable, halfway through the book, many readers will have given up in disgust. However, the second half is compelling and fast-paced, full of intrigues, armed skirmishes, and Rodrigo's growth into the role of King of Caledon.
If you're a fan of Feintuch's earlier books or the economy-size coming- of-age fantasy epics of Robert Jordan and Robin Hobb, The Still is worth a look -- but only if you have a high tolerance for melodrama and teen angst.
-- Christina Schulman.
If you like this book, you will probably also enjoy:
David Feintuch: Midshipman's Hope
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