The Author Interview was a nice extra in which Fultz acknowledges the authors who inspired him, namelyClark Ashton Smith, Tanith Lee, and Darrell Schweitzer. I found Fultz’s writing to be more accessible than these authors, but less deep/intellectual (in this work); though poetic language is frequent. Seven Princes reads as a Young Adult version of dark fantasy and pays homage to Lovecraft and Howard in many ways. Most characters are archetypal “good” or “evil.” We learn about the land's history via ~7 princes and 1 princess who all come of age together in a tumultuous time. I found most princes to be indistinguishable (most are honorable warrior types). Gammir of Khyrei is not included in the core seven, but emerges the most developed character, and is arguably a prince too.
The scope is epic in time and geography, but it is not Tolkien like. Do not expect elves, dwarves, or orcs here. Just giants, and colossal serpents, and lots of magic. This is part of the series “Books of the Shaper” and Shaping is sorcery. There is “good” magic and “evil” magic, that involve “shaping” elements; only the “bad” magic is explained (it requires blood; let’s hear it for vampirism and necromancy!), but the good magic just requires thought apparently.
Despite not having a fully explained magic system, the “shaping” in the story was really how the land was shaped over time via cyclical good/evil struggles. The pacing did fluctuate as other reviewers have noted. The opening chapter is a worthy stand-alone short story and is an outstanding foundation for the rest of the book. The last 150pages would have been better if it was stretched out—lots of epic battles that deserved more pages! For a 500page novel, this read very fast. I am compelled to read the next two:Seven Sorcerers and Seven Kings. I recommend this to those sword and sorcery readers who normally read short fiction (avoiding series of thick books).
The seven princes:
1. Fangodrel of Udurum half-human scholar
2. Tadarus of Udurum half-giant warrior prince
3. Vireon of Udurum half-giant warrior prince
(Princess Sharadza of Udurum)... she’s a sorceress
4. Lyrilan of Uurz … a scholar
5. Tyro of Uurz … a human warrior prince
6. Andoses of Shar Dni … a human warrior prince
7. D’zan of Yaskatha … a young human warrior prince