I recently finished reading “Blood of Ambrose” by James Enge, a novel I had been anticipating for quite some time. Like many readers of Black Gate, I’m always eager for another tale featuring Morlock the Maker. Even though Morlock is not the protagonist of Enge’s novel, I think Morlock fans will be pleased with his role.
Young Lathmar, a descendent of Morlock’s sister, Ambrosia Viviana, becomes the rightful heir of the Ontilian Empire after his parents die under mysterious causes. Too young (and perhaps unwilling) to take the throne, Lathmar finds himself with few supporters as his uncle, Lord Protector Urdhven, brings more soldiers under his own banner.
When Lord Urdhven arrests Ambrosia, her only hope is that someone will defend her through a trial by combat. Her brother Morlock becomes her champion, and so begins his involvement in supporting Lathmar as they attempt to overturn the Lord Protector’s reign. Yet things are not as simple as they first appear, for there is a darker power at work that aids Urdhven, an unknown entity they refer to as the Protector’s Shadow.
I enjoyed the characters of this novel. Morlock is a given, but Enge adds to the dynamics with other strong stand-outs: Ambrosia (whose centuries-old love for her brother allows for very pointed conversations and references to Morlock’s past), Wyrth (the humorous and wise dwarf who is Morlock’s apprentice), and Lathmar (the inexperienced protagonist we get to grow up with). Morlock’s character emerged more than I’ve seen in short stories, especially his internal struggles, adding to the complexities of an already enigmatic character.
The plot moves pretty quickly, and just when it seems to resolve into a simple package, everything becomes turned on its head, causing you to rethink everything. Well written, highly addictive and edgy. I’m really looking forward to the next novel coming later this year.
Incidentally, if any of the Morlock novels become movies, I think I would go in one of two directions for casting the role of Morlock. I’d either choose Hugh Laurie (best known for his role as Dr. House) or Brent Spiner (best known for his role as Star Trek’s Data).