Source: Bought from Half.com
Back Cover Blurb:
Ages ago, sorcerers of unmatched power sundered a world into four realms--sky, stone, fire, and water--then vanished. Over time, magicians learned to work spells only in their own realms and forgot the others. Now only the few who have survived the Labyrinth and crossed the Death Gate know of the presence of all four realms--and even they have yet to unravel the mysteries of their severed world...
In Arianus, Realm of Sky, humans, elves, and dwarves battle for control of precious water--traversing a world of airborne islands on currents of elven magic and the backs of mammoth dragons. But soon great magical forces will begin to rend the fabric of this delicate land. An assassin will be hired to kill a royal prince--by the king himself. A dwarf will challenge the beliefs of his people--and lead them in rebellion. And a sinister wizard will enact his plan to rule Arianus--a plan that may be felt far beyond the Realm of Sky and into the Death Gate itself.
This is a "mystery fantasy" where the main characters perceive their world in a certain way, but the more they learn, the more they realize they haven't understood the truth about their world. The world-building in this book is excellent, and the worlds are very intriguing. The pacing is good, and the main characters change realistically throughout the book. The magic is of the traditional fantasy type. The really isn't any romance in the story, and I don't recall any modern curse words being used. Overall, I'd recommend this as "a good, clean fun" novel.
(Note: The other six books in this series also qualify as "good, clean fun.")
Excerpt: Chapter One
The crudely built cart lurched and bounced over the rough coralite terrain, its iron wheels hitting every bump and pit in what passed for a road. The cart was being pulled by a tier, its breath snorting puffs in the chill air. It took one man to lead the stubborn and unpredictable bird while four more, stationed on either side of the vehicle, pushed and shoved the cart along. A small crowd, garnered from the outlying farms, had gathered in front of Yreni Prison, planning to escort the cart and its shameful burden to the city walls of Ke'lith. There, a much larger crowd awaited the cart's arrival.
Dayside was ending. The glitter of the firmament began to fade as the Lords of Night slowly drew the shadow of their cloaks over the afternoon stars. Night's gloom was fitting for the procession.
The country folk--for the most part--kept their distance from the cart. They did this not out of fear of the teir--although those huge birds had been known to suddenly turn and take a vicious snap at anyone approaching them from their blind side--but out of fear of the cart's occupant.
The prisoner was bound around the wrists by taunt leather thongs attached to the sides of the cart, and his feet were manacled with heavy chains. Several sharp-eyed bowmen marched beside the cart, their feathered shafts nocked and ready to be let loose straight at the felon's heart if he so much as twitched the wrong way. But such precautions did not appear to offer the cart's followers much comfort. They kept their gaze--dark and watchful--fixed on the man inside as they trudged along behind at a respectful distance that markedly increased when the man turned his head. If they'd had a demon from Hereka chained up in that cart, the local farmers could not have gazed on it with any greater fear or awe.