Review: Lady of the Helm by T.O. Munro
Ever since a certain George R.R. decided to separate a lead protagonist’s head from his shoulders there seems to be a growing propensity in fantasy novels to make ‘no one safe’. Munro has certainly taken this approach with Lady of the Helm, but don’t think for one minute that this is a negative, or even slightly detrimental to the tale.
Munro’s story begins with a brief prologue where we discover a trio of conspirators releasing a great evil from its subterranean prison. Already, this early on, it is clear that Munro is a talented writer…
As we move to the present day we are introduced to a veritable plethora of characters, in fact one could be forgiven for thinking that Munro had to self-impose a cull of sorts to keep the numbers from getting out of hand. As the well-woven tale continues along its way the deaths begin to mount – It’s fair to say that suddenly the characters I thought were mainstays of the epic began to meet their (rather grisly) end. I can honestly say that at one point I had to wrack my brains to think of who was actually still alive. But hey, I kind of like the fact that I couldn’t get too far ahead of myself, trying to second guess the direction the tale was going.
There are great characters at every turn – as fore-mentioned, some do stick around more than others. Without competition though, Dema the Medusa was a personal favourite of mine – sheer-evil one moment, hints of compassion the next; a wonderfully fleshed out and complex character that made this already great fantasy debut even better.
As the story builds towards the conclusion of the first part of Munro’s Bloodline Trilogy the intensity rises, and I found I was unable to tear myself away. There seems no way to stop the spread of evil across the lands as stronghold after stronghold falls victim to Maelgrum the Lich and his hordes, but there is hope – And that hope lies with Niarmit.
She reluctantly accepts her role and the Goddess back into her life and it was interesting to see her develop as the end (of this instalment) approached.
All in all, Lady of the Helm was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The language and flow particularly excellent. The characters are well developed and serve their time well until their usefulness to the plot expires – at which point they tend to follow suit. I highly recommend you take a chance on T.O. Munro’s debut novel, it won’t disappoint.
***** 5 STARS!