The Last Quarrel: Episode One

Written by: Duncan Lay

Published By: Simon and Schuster

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            I was looking for a fast read with a bit of action, an heir of mystery and a smidgeon of fantasy.  I got all of that with The Last Quarrel: Episode One by Duncan Lay.  Now I want more!

           The Last Quarrel takes place in the Kingdom of Gaelland.  Nestled neatly along the coast of Gaelland is the fishing/farming town of Baltimore where folks live a simple life, struggling to get by while providing fish and other goods for the King.  The town is protected by Sergeant Fallon, a trained soldier who wants to be a hero, though his wife Bridgit would settle for a life of peace and tranquility.  Fallon's chance at heroics begins when a ship crashes into the harbor.  All aboard are missing, including the Duke  of Lunster.

When Fallon brings news of this mystery back to Lunster, he is greeted with another similar mystery.  The children of Lunster are fact, children all over Gaelland, even in the capital of Berry, are missing.  People have begun speaking of magical creatures like selkies, but most believe it to be the work of purveyors of blood magic.  Fallon is dispatched by the Duke's wife to help capture the rogues responsible for these disappearances.  But Fallon's army consists of farmers, fisherman and other villagers, unused to the ravages of war.  Can Fallon hope to capture whomever is responsible for the disappearance of the Duke and the Lunster children without losing his friends and family to bloodshed?

Meanwhile, Prince Cavan is on a similar hunt.  Having witnessed the execution of an innocent woman believed to be a witch and thus, responsible for the disappearance of the children of Berry, Cavan is determined not to allow another innocent to die at the hands of panic.  His investigations lead him back to his own brother, but how to prove his involvement to the King?  And how does one capture villains who do not bleed and can jump impossible distances?

I was thoroughly taken in by the mysterious disappearances all over Gaelland.  One moment it seems as if mortal men are responsible, the other, black magic.  Duncan Lay makes us want to know what is going to happen next, creating characters we can relate to and giving us the desire to watch them succeed in their quest.  The story moves incredibly fast, but doesn't give the reader a feeling of being rushed.  And I loved the little interludes in which people disappear, offering us a glimpse into what they see just prior to whatever it is that is happening to these people. 

Lay gives us just enough of a glimpse without revealing exactly what happens to them, teasing us with a carrot and keeping us chasing it throughout the book.  And of course he would have to end it in an amazing cliffhanger, with Fallon in the midst of battle!  Reaching the last page, I found myself exclaiming, "Oh, no he didn't!"  How could you leave us hanging like that, Mr. Lay?!  I have no other choice than to read the second episode of The Last Quarrel as soon as it becomes available!  I need to know what happens next!


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