Off the Shelf

“The Singer’s Crown”

By Marcus Pan

The Singer’s Crown is Elaine Isaak’s first foray into writing and she’s done a great job. A mesmerizing story set in a fantasy milieu, it’s epic in size and proportion. The characters are very lifelike and quite personable at times, and the story delves into adventure, war, fantasy and intrigue to form something similar and akin to King’s Eyes of the Dragon(1), but told in a better manner similar to Tanith Lee.

The story revolves around an usurped throne and the castrated singer that is the last of the royal lineage of that family. Taking pity on his “favorite nephew,” Duke Thorgir sends young prince Kattanan du Rhys off to a monastery where he is castrated, per religious beliefs, to become a singer. It’s years later, traded about, when he finds himself in the court of King Gerrod. Traded to the princess, Melisande, as a gift in the hopes of his last lord gaining favor during courtship, a murder later he finds himself running from Gamel’s Grove where the despicable Orie has gained the young girl’s favor and had the singer run off – not realizing that this is the long lost royalty figure that the kingdom of Lochalyn has been searching for.

The characters in The Singer’s Crown are brilliantly written. The anguish of Kattanan, who has no real ambition to be a king as it is thrust upon him by his grandmother, and the engineering of his disappearance to leave behind his new Queen, Briana, to fitful friend Fionvar. The mixture of Jordan the Wizard’s Bane with Alswytha, Wizard of Nine Stars, was a brilliant portion of unexpected romance and the rise of the Wizard of the Prince’s Blood was wonderfully concocted.

Overall it was a great story and, while it took a while to get moving, kept on steadily once it did and all the pieces of intrigue were in place to unravel later. The idea of Wizard’s having no power over a person unless asked was excellent and unexpected and can greatly limit their power at times, leading to great dialogues of punch, jab and dodge to keep a wizard’s inquisitiveness at bay without accidentally calling upon their power and opening yourself to their touch.

As the war to oust traitor and throne usurper King Thorgir came to an end, you’d figure this would be the end of the plot. While climactic as a whole it certainly wasn’t the end of all the political movements that were occurring as Orie stepped up in an attempt to capture not only the newly freed Lochalyn throne, but that of Bernholt and King Gerrod as well. There was still a bit more to go as Prince Wolfram’s body was borne back to the palace at Bernholt for his funeral and subtle royal outrages as the plot thickened and the final climactic ball, confrontation and battle finished The Singer’s Crown with a very unexpected ending.

Nearly 500 digest size pages, The Singer’s Crown isn’t one of your standard small fantasy pulps. Nor is it written as such. A great first outing by Elaine Isaak and I’m curious what she could do with a true, multiple volume epic as well now. The Singer’s Crown could have been one of these, but she kept it in one and ran it well.

“The Singer’s Crown” by Elaine Isaak
Copyright © 2005 by Elaine Isaak
Designed by Lovedog Studio
ISBN: 0-06-078253-6
(1) Reviewed in Legends #137.

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