The Heir To The North is the first novel by Steven Poore but to read it you'd think he's been doing this for years. HttN is Epic Fantasy of the highest standard.
The general gist of the story is the usual descendant of displaced royalty/evil warlock/prophecy fare that much of the fantasy genre uses but is a whole different level to a lot of what is out there today. Several hundred years ago the Warlock Malessar pulled the castle of Caenthell apart stone by stone, the only survivors being the soldier Baum and the baby son of the High King, his only Descendant.
Move forward to 'now' and we meet the travelling story teller Norrow (a truly horrible specimen of humanity) and his daughter Cassia, who also has hopes of becoming a story teller one day. In the town Keskor they meet up with a grizzled old soldier and a 'princeling' who are planning to restore the North and defeat Malessar's curse (Caenthell will stay buried and The North will not rise again until I freely offer my sword to a true descendant of the High Kings-or one takes it from my dying hands). Norrow and Cassia, as Storytellers, go with Baum and Meredith (the aforementioned Princeling) on their quest to record events and to have a new tale to tell.
Things are not all as they seem though. There is a good bit of twisting and turning as the tale goes on - and the end really pulled the rug out from under my feet. Things are nicely set up for the second (and concluding) volume in the series.
What really stood out for me was the way the world was brought to life as the characters moved through it. The history was mostly revealed through stories told, and a very rich history it is too.
I thought right from the start that this book was a bit special - sometimes you just get that tingle other books don't give you - and I wasn't wrong. It brought to mind the first time I picked up he works of Eddings and Robert Jordan and, in my opinion, is good enough to stand side by side with them.
With exemplary storytelling set in a richly developed world Steven Poore has become one to watch.