The many teen novels we have in our collections are often about characters coming of age; reaching that point in life when they must face their insecurities, learn who they are, and take on the responsibilities of adulthood.’  This can happen in many ways, and for many different reasons.

Like, for instance, if the enemy butchers everyone around you and you pretty much don’t have a choice.

Such is the path of Orisian Lannis-Haig, one of the many vibrant characters populating our latest ATB:’  Brian Ruckley’s most excellent fantasy trilogy, The Godless World, which recently concluded with The Fall of Thanes (preceded by Winterbirth and Bloodheir).

These books are dark fantasy at its best; wintry woods and mountains, black armor, clashing steel and terrible battle.’  But they also delve into politics, religion and family relationships.’  The use of magic and the …ahem…’elvish’ characters are handled with a nicely original flair.’  All of this, combined with a rather Gaelic flair (Ruckley is a Scot, and his world takes much from the Medieval Highlands).’  Clans here become “Bloods,” and the…ahem…’elvish’ characters are more like ancient Pictish tribes.

The central appeal for teens lies in Orisian and his sister Anyara.’  When the Bloods of the Black Road (rival clans who practice an outlawed religion) invade their homeland, all members of the ruling family are killed, including their father.’  Orisian is forced to flee, and is left as Thane (clan chief, basically) of a fallen house, while Anyara is captured.’  Neither of these teenagers ever expected to more than comfortable lesser nobility, and are now forced to find strength and resolve they never knew they had.’  And as the war between the Bloods escalates, a new threat arises that could spell the end of everything:’  The hideous Aeglyss, madman and magic-user, who has infiltrated the planes of mind and magic to bring the world to the bloody end he so desires.’  Orisian must find a destiny he never asked for as he fights to save his family, his clan, and even the very world.

And that ain’t even the whole story!’  Keep this one in mind for those teens who have burned through all your YA fantasy and are looking for something dark and action-packed, especially fans of Tolkien, Jordan and Salvatore.’  It’s a rather bloody affair, but not gratuitously so.

Enjoy!’  Coming next month: ATB Volume 5: The Anti-Twilight Edition!!

About Ken Petrilli

I'm the Teen Services Librarian at the New Rochelle Public Library in New Rochelle, NY, and I'm currently co-convenor for YALSA's Intellectual Freedom Interest Group and Chair for the Baker & Taylor Conference Grant Jury. When I'm not being a librarian I'm being a heavy metal guitar player, a hopeless otaku and a general all-around pop-culture junkie.

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