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Ilfayne's Bane by Julia Knight (Oathcursed: Book 1)

8/10 Ilfayne’s Bane is a must for lovers of turnips and epic fantasy everywhere.

Julia Knight’s Ilfayne’s Bane, winner of the 2010 EPIC* eBook award for fantasy romance, is the dark and brooding love story of a half-breed woman and a haunted, outcast mage.

Condemned to four thousand years of loneliness and regret, Ilfayne finds a rare thing in Hilde: a friend. For that, he will do anything to keep her safe. Just as he gathers the courage to reveal the tender feelings he thought he’d lost, her kyrbodan blood forces her to bond with a man of her own race. To deny the bond means she could die. Either way, she is lost to him.

Julia Knight does two things well in Ilfayne’s Bane. Firstly, she has gone for a strong female lead but has not, as many have previously done, made her unrealistic or just so damn annoying that you spend most of the time wanting to strangle her. Neither has she attempted to re-address the imbalance of past years by making the male characters stereotypical and one dimensional. Secondly, she has made the world, characters and storyline - while of course fantastical - believable.

Hilde is a character that will evoke a great deal of compassion in the reader. She is a young woman who is constantly subjected to horrific intolerance (due to being half kyrboden / half human) and finds herself shunned by both races. It is her journey that we, as the reader, follow as her path crosses that of Ilfayne, the four-thousand year old mage and his long-suffering partner Regin. There is much adventure, discovery, happiness and sadness along the way, but thankfully and importantly, there are also moments of genuine humour to be found, particularly in the form of turnips…

Initially there is a veil of mystery surrounding matters, but not to the extent that you never feel you’re going to work out what the hell is going on (something some authors seem to revel in). The clouds, however, soon clear as the jaunty narrative progresses. Ilfayne’s Bane is a well-written and involving story that fans of Tolkien and Rowling will enjoy, the enigmatic Ilfayne and put-up-upon Hilde are excellent leads performing in a story whose threads cleverly and intelligently overlap. The contrast of the major characters causes them to compliment each other well and there is just the right amount of action, romance and dialogue. Ilfayne’s Bane is a must for lovers of turnips and epic fantasy everywhere and, in my opinion, also suitable for the young adult market.

*EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection, is a professional organization for published and contracted e-book and print authors. EPIC exists to help professional writers learn more about the best publishing opportunities on the Internet and to provide networking opportunities for exchange of information about promotion and market growth.

Julia Knight, struck down with ME in 2004, took up writing as a defence against daytime TV and found she couldn't give up the habit. Always fascinated with fantasy and science fiction ever since that first delve into Lord of the Rings, to the point she has a tattoo of the Rohirrim flag. When not writing she likes motorbikes, watching wrestling (it’s the muscles, sweat and baby oil combo) and exploring new ways to get a giggle out of life. Julia is a member of the T Party writers' group.

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