The Last T'En
Cory Daniells

This review appeared in Harbinger issue 4.

Cover 'The Last T’En' is the first book in The T’En Trilogy by Cory Daniells. Unlike most fantasy trilogies, this book doesn’t muck about. There are no maps in the front, no prologue, no glossary and no pronunciation guides. The very first page jumps right to the heart of the story with General Tulkhan in the Stronghold that he has just conquered.

The world in which Cory’s story takes place is a complex one. There are 3 races of people, the local peasants, the Ghebite barbarian invaders, and the T’En.

The peasants are the native inhabitants of Fair Isle. They have been on the island since time immemorial. The Ghebite are from a hot northern country and their army has been slowly conquering all the countries in its march south.

The T’En arrived on Fair Isle from across the sea 600 years ago. It was misfortune that bought the first shipful of T’En to Fair Isle. They couldn’t go back to their homeland, so set about conquering Fair Isle and setting themselves up as a ruling nobility.

The Ghebite and locals are very similar races. They have coppery skin and dark eyes. The T’En, however, are vastly different. They are a tall willowy race with pale skin, silver hair and six fingers. They have wine-dark red eyes and psychic powers. A pure T’En does at any rate. But since their arrival they have been interbreeding with the locals to such an extent that the nobility are now almost indistinguishable from the locals. Now and then a Throwback is born. A pure T’En. Imoshen is one. As is her betrothed Reothe.

This is where the story begins.

'The Last T’En' is not only a fantasy of the rising and falling civilisations and cultures; it is also a romance. Imoshen is the last T’En princess and is the captive of the Ghebite General Tulkhan. Reothe is the last T’En prince and is an outcast rebel who General Tulkhan needs to kill. Imoshen is caught between Reothe and Tulkhan, as they both need her to get win the support of the people. All Imoshen wants is to survive and protect her people. She is caught between her feelings for her betrothed and for her captor.

The characters drive the book, but it doesn’t lack for story because of this. I’ve only touched on the main thrust of story, which is Imoshen’s desire to survive and protect Fair Isle from further bloodshed. There are a dozen subtle subplots and minor characters, but I won’t mention them or there would be no point reading the book.

There are a couple of minor problems I had with the book, though. I found it a little disconcerting to begin with, as the point of view character would change without any clear indication that it was going to happen. One moment it is Imoshen’s voice and thoughts I’m reading and then, the next paragraph it is General Tulkhan’s. I found these sudden unexpected switches in points of view a little confusing at times. I wouldn’t know who was thinking what.

Some of the romantic scenes were a bit overlong and unconvincing. There comes a point when the continuous polarity of emotions in the characters ceases to be realistic. This was particularly noticeable in the later half of the book. Towards the end, the characters that have above average intelligence seem little more than morons. This is not because the reader is in the privileged position of knowing the thoughts of all the characters, but because the lack of insight the main characters show about their feelings towards each other is inconsistent with their interactions with the minor characters

All in all though, Cory has created a vivid and engaging world to tell the tale of Imoshen, the last of the T’En. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy, irrespective of its slight flaws.