Cover image for The isle of battle
The isle of battle
Russell, Sean.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : EOS, [2002]

Physical Description:
467 pages ; 24 cm.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy

On Order



Epic high fantasy this good comes along only once in a while! Standing with the best of the field, Sean Russell's Swans' War series has enchanted readers and critics alike with its fascinating tale of good and evil, romance and violence, magic and mystery.

After years of bitter enmity, the battle for power between the Renn#65533; and the Wills families has reached a fever point. Fleeing a forced marriage, young Elise Wills has made a desperate bargain with a dark river spirit to save her own life. It is left to the wanderer Alaan, together with a band of brave companions, to find Elise -- even as the dark knight Hafydd hunts Alaan for the secrets he possesses. But if Alaan cannot free Elise, the entire kingdom will be consumed in a bloody war between unquiet ghosts.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this enjoyable follow-up to the well-received first book in the Swans' War series, The One Kingdom (2001), Canadian author Russell (River into Darkness) offers more superior high fantasy, with a large cast of fully developed and carefully observed characters, many familiar from volume one. In order to escape a forced marriage, Lady Elise Wills has merged with the dark river spirit, Sianon, to the dismay of her intended, Prince Michael of Innes. With the three Valemen Tam, Fynnol and Baore she sets out to find the mysterious wanderer, Alaan, whom she hopes will help to reconcile her to her new powers and to defeat her enemy, the dark knight Hafydd. In his own quest for Alaan, Hafydd is not above using treachery, sorcery and guile to achieve his sinister goals. As the action ebbs and flows around the known lands of the Kingdom of Ayr as well as the hidden magical lands, the author explores traditional themes of good and evil, though not everything is strictly black and white. Just as all paths led to Westbrook Fair in the previous book, so do all the principals come together at the Isle of Battle, with the fate of the warring Renn and Wills clans hanging in the balance. Despite the many disparate story threads, the narrative flows easily, building in intensity from a firm steady pace to a powerful climax that will keep the reader happily waiting for the next installment of this classically composed fantasy. Agent, Howard Morhaim. Author tour. (Aug. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hoping to escape an arranged marriage intended to strengthen her family in its feud against the rival Renne clan, Elise Wills bargains with a river spirit to spare her life. Although pursued by the sorcerous knight Hafydd, the mysterious wanderer Alaan and his traveling companions set out on a journey to free Elise from her bargain and prevent a catastrophic war of restless and vengeful ghosts from consuming the kingdom. Russell's sequel to The One Kingdom carries the tale of a pair of feuding families and the young people who represent the future's hope to a new level of fantasy adventure. Filled with fierce battle scenes and moments of personal drama, this skillfully plotted, well-paced saga belongs in most fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Isle of Battle Book Two of the Swans' War Chapter One Torches guttered and flared, haloed in the mist that boiled above the river. No body had surfaced, though that was of little comfort to Prince Michael of Innes. He walked knee deep in the slow-moving river, feeling the mud give softly beneath his boots, half afraid that he would stumble over Elise Wills motionless on the bottom. "What a foolish act!" he whispered to himself. Foolish and desperate, but had he not considered the same thing himself?. Escape from Hafydd--escape at all costs. He found the whole evening strange and unreal. Even his feelings seemed veiled, as though this same cold mist was all that moved within his heart. Elise was gone . . . yet he didn't believe it. Her own father had said she couldn't swim. She'd gone into the river rather than let their marriage serve Hafydd and his ambitions. Rather than marry me , the Prince reminded himself. Voices sounded along the shore, muffled in the murk, but there was no elation in those calls, no sudden joyful discovery to blow the clinging mist from his heart. The Prince set one foot down in the ooze, then the other. A ghost of anger made itself felt, though distant and unformed. He cursed Hafydd under his breath, the words swirling out in a fine mist. A blunt-ended punt loomed out of the fog, its masked and costumed inhabitants drawing quick breaths of surprise as the prince appeared in the haze: a man, strangely costumed walking on water. A ghost. After all the madness at the Renné Ball, a ghost should have been expected. One of Hafydd's revenant honor guard hurried by along the bank, a torch held high, forcing back the night and illuminating the wraiths of mist that swirled around them. Prince Michael prayed that they would find Elise alive--and prayed that they would not. Such a courageous act should not end with being dragged from the river, drenched in failure. She deserved better than that. It was selfishness alone that made him hope she would be found, still among the living. The party that had come with the Wills family were desperately searching, running this way and that, even the men at arms choking back tears. They had known Elise all her short, sweet life, he reminded himself. They wouldn't feel this numbness that penetrated his heart. Torches wavered above him suddenly, and he realized he'd come back to the bridge. A small knot of dark-robed men gathered on the bank, their whispers barely distinguishable from the river's voice. They glanced up as the Prince appeared, but then ignored him, as they did habitually. Hafydd was there, at the center, tall and proud. He moved down to the river's edge and crouched-the motion giving the lie to his years. He glanced at Michael, then away. A gray man, Michael thought, dressed in black, grim and hard as stone. For a moment he didn't move, his men arrayed about him silent and intimidated. But then he stood, drawing out his sword. Prince Michael felt himself step back, though he hadn't willed his limbs to do so. Hafydd slid down the small bank into the water. He plunged the blade into the smooth back of the river and held it still, his eyes closed. None of his minions dared speak. "She's gone," Hafydd said, but then his arm jerked as if the river had shuddered. His eyes opened. " Sianon ," he whispered. He seemed about to collapse, crumpling over the blade he still held in the river. Two of his guards stepped forward to support him but the knight shook them off and drew himself up. Hafydd turned and strode up the bank, disappearing into the fog, his minions following after like so many shadows. "Lady Elise . . . ?" Baore said, but could not finish the sentence. The look of fear and concern on his face said more than Elise needed to hear. He kept glancing at the bank, looking for a place to land--somewhere up the Westbrook, Elise thought, far from the bridge where she had given herself to the river. "It is all right, Baore," she managed. But it was a he. She could not even sit up. Her head seemed to be in a whirl, her thoughts a crazed jumble. Memories came flooding in. War she saw, endless years of war and battle and blood. And with these visions came a terrible sense of excitement and anticipation that sent a wave of dread through her, drying her mouth and causing her limbs to tremble. What had she done? What kind of a monster had she made her bargain with? The boat slid to a halt in soft mud, and Baore leapt nimbly over the side to haul the craft high up the bank. He tried to help her out but in the end reached in and lifted her in his arms, setting her down by the coals of a smoldering fire. He disappeared a moment and returned with a blanket wrapped around a bundle of clothes. This he held out to her awkwardly. "They're my cousin Fynnol's," he said, "but I think they'll fit." Elise glanced up from where she crouched by the river. Baore was a shadow presence in the darkness and mist. "Thank you," she said, but could not move to begin to put them on. She began to tremble again, not from the cold. She had drowned in the river! Drowned! "You must get out of that wet costume," Baore said, mistaking her trembling for cold. But she could not, and in the end Baore helped her, dressing her like a child, averting his eyes as he did so, which would have made her smile if she had been capable of it. He rekindled the fire but the flames did not warm her. "They will be looking for me," she managed, her head perhaps spinning a little less. "We came a distance upstream, my lady," Baore said. "They will look downstream toward the Wynnd." The Isle of Battle Book Two of the Swans' War . Copyright © by Sean Russell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Isle of Battle by Sean Russell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.