Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell

(8.0/10)

Sarah Cawkwell’s first full length novel is somewhat safe, ticking all the boxes for a middle-of-the-road, well-paced fantasy story. It’s got the hero and his beautiful girlfriend; it’s got a “Fellowship” on a quest; it’s got the 'all-powerful-until-the-denouement' evil characters; it’s got light touches of humour, of sadness; it’s got the 'coming-of-age' story in a world full of change and magic. All classic fantasy ingredients… for a reason. What is slightly different (though done much better by Mark Alder in his recent “Son of the Morning”) is the backdrop of an alternative history of England mixed with a heavy dose of the supernatural. In this case based on the premise of “what if a demonic intervention meant Henry Tudor did not win the Battle of Bosworth and the Plantagenet line continued to rule England from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century A.D.?'

Readers will get a good sense of the author’s grounding in Warhammer and online gaming given the narrative plays exactly like one of those scenarios. The story is centred around one Mattias Eynon, a young lad living in Wales with an inherent gift of magic - a gift that was brought to England by Richard the Lionheart (this is the pivot on which history diverges). This is an England where the ‘Eastern Promise unlocked a whole new world. It was a world terrifying and overwhelming in equal measure – but it was also a world of limitless potential.” Yet, it was also an England where “Freedom was a thing long forgotten.”

There is some inexperience in the narration. Early on the author stresses the slow creep of magic into society, with sentences like: “Slowly, but surely, magic became part of the culture” or “The words of magic began slowly to trickle down.” These conflict with her rush to say “By the time of Richard’s death, five years after his return… magic had firmly taken root.” And “with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215… the spread of magic through the population was unprecedented.” A minor point, but given these occur early in the story, the more experienced fantasy novel reader will wince slightly. I got a sense of a rush by the author to set the background, wanting to delve into the 'present' story.

The novel opens with a swift explanation of how Richard III (he who was found under a car park in Leicester recently) did a deal with the demon Melusine to win the field at Bosworth; the price of which means one of his descendants will be handed to her so she may gain entrance to the world… an entrance through the magic of Stonehenge. Skip forward a hundred years and we find Mattias and Tagan (his girlfriend) fleeing the terrible Inquisitor Weaver who is the mighty fist of King Richard V. The latter wears a mask, possesses a superhuman strength and will and is a bloodhound tracking down all who practise magic and condemning them to swift (usually fiery) death. Both young people have a magical talent, one that needs nurturing, one that Weaver has been sent to snuff out.

Having been magically transported to a henge in Bavaria, Germany to meet a powerful magus - Warin the Shapeshifter – the rest of the novel becomes a quest for Mattias and Tagan to find the other three powerful magi (Eyja – She Who Sees, Giraldo de Luna - the Pirate King, and Akhgar Ibn Atash - the Wanderer) then defeat the demon Melusine. I have to say that when this motley crew got together I was faintly reminded of ‘The Princess Bride’. Primarily because of the rakish Giraldo, who is both strutting peacock and swordsman extraordinaire. Each member of the fellowship compliments the others; we find ourselves in dark forests, on raging seas, crossing harsh deserts… all the while chased by the in exhaustible Weaver until the denouement at Stonehenge. Events seem to come to a satisfactory end with the important opening for the author to write another novel.

I quite liked this novel because it took me back to fantasy reading as a teenager. There's a character type for all gamers and this is the novel’s target audience… it’s not a “teen novel” like Hunger Games et al. but it certainly will appeal to those immersed in the ‘original’ strain of fantasy novels. Those who grew up with D&D, those who now indulge in Warhammer or World of Warcraft will find much to enjoy as they turn the pages. It’s not high on technicality, but it is abundant with the possibility of the reader swelling the words with their own imagination and that… is what makes it rather good.

Review by

All reviews for Sarah Cawkwell's Heirs of the Demon King series


Uprising
Heirs of the Demon King #1
8.0

Mathias Eynon’s dreams were small. A dabbler in magic, he expected to live in obscurity in his home in the Welsh hills. But fate has other plans for him. It is the Ye [...]

12+

Uprising reader reviews

8/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

Hagurosan

by Darren Shan

When Hagurosan is told to take an offering to the shrine, he reluctantly begins his trek up the mountain. But when he gets hungry and eats the cake meant for the spirits, t [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2013

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

9+

A Brightness Long Ago

by Guy Gavriel Kay

International bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay's latest work is set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offers an extraordinary cast of characters whose li [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2019

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 3 positive reader reviews

15+

Bitter Seeds

by Ian Tregillis

The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troop [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2010

Score: 98

Our rating: 9.8 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

Tigana

by Guy Gavriel Kay

Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be free. A people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the t [...]

Series: NA
Published: 1990

Score: 106

Our rating: 9.7 | 9 positive reader reviews

12+

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, a [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2004

Score: 112

Our rating: 9.7 | 15 positive reader reviews

15+

Under Heaven

by Guy Gavriel Kay

For two years Shen Tai has mourned his father, living like a hermit beyond the borders of the Kitan Empire, by a mountain lake where terrible battles have long been fought [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2010

Score: 98

Our rating: 9.7 | 1 positive reader reviews

15+

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

by Michael Chabon

What if, as Franklin Roosevelt once proposed, Alaska - and not Israel - had become the homeland for the Jews after World War II? In Michael Chabon's Yiddish-speaking &# [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2007

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Hats off to Brandenburg

by Graham Thomas

London, 1815 – The Roxy Playhouse is in trouble! The Roxy Playhouse Irregulars, those libertine artists and dreamers, are up to their necks in debt – “Pay [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2012

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

It is Christmas Eve in Victorian London, and all around the snow-covered city people are rushing home to be with their families. All except one man, that is: Ebenezer Scroo [...]

Series: NA
Published: 1901

Score: 143

Our rating: 9.6 | 49 positive reader reviews

12+