City of Rain

William Lejeune

Publisher: William LeJeune Pages: 728 Price: (paperback) $17.99 ISBN: 9781739556402 Reviewed: June, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

City of Rain, book one of author William Lejeune’s proposed Cinqhawk saga, is an epic fantasy novel set in a vast magical realm known as The Empire.

The novel commences in the “great imperial capital” of Relvaux with the poisoning by Lord Vasqo Rhone, the Emperor’s remembrancer, of esteemed scholar and “Master Reader of the Imperial College of Magic” Alcidimus. Vasqo is a member of the Circle of the Crimson Sun, an assembly of morally questionable wizards who wish to acquire an ancient parchment in Alcidimus’ possession, to help further their nefarious schemes.

Before he dies, however, Alcidimus entrusts the parchment to Summer Fontenay, a young mage in his employ. Alcidimus tasks Summer with delivering the parchment to Sidonius, a scholar who resides in the distant city of Torrick.

Suspected of her mentor’s murder and on the run, Summer journeys to the perilous city of Torrick, where she discovers Sidonius is away for the winter. Forced into hiding to await his return, Summer must evade the mages hunting her, and survive long enough to complete her quest and ultimately clear her name.

The story is packed with political intrigue and mysticism, celebrating the traditional quest fantasy tropes and grandiose worldbuilding aesthetics of high fantasy storytelling. Lejeune’s attention to detail is commendable. In particular, Torrick, where most of the novel’s action takes place, is beautifully imagined and believably rendered.

Lejeune also displays a knack for quality characterization. Principal protagonists Summer and Cole Culhane, an apprentice mage fallen on hard times, are sympathetic and engaging, as are secondary characters such as the ambitious mage tasked with capturing Summer.

If the novel has a weakness, it’s that initially the story’s pace is negatively impacted by the narrative’s scale and the need to introduce and elaborate on numerous characters and locations. That said, for the most part, City of Rain is an immersive, imaginative series opener that will appeal to fantasy fans seeking a quality new saga to enjoy.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
London, United Kingdom
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