David B. Coe’s series “Winds of the Forelands” is a collection of five fantasy books that take place in a world divided by race. The books revolve around the growing conflict between two races. The more dominant of the two races, the Eandi, are physically strong and rule the land as dukes. The second race, the Qirsi, have frail bodies and lead short lives. However, they are able to use magic. For this reason, the Qirsi are both prized and feared. Eandi nobles keep Qirsi as advisors, but they are also treated poorly by many. Many Qirsi wish to reject Eandi rule for this very reason, and it is only a matter of time before they are given the opportunity to do so. A Qirsi conspiracy surfaces, and the conspirators plot to overthrow the Eandi from within.
The series follows the conspiracy’s growth and the efforts Eandi and Qirsi alike make to fight the conspiracy. This leads to the novels striking a delicate balance between political machinations and open warfare. Magic, due to its significance in the lives of the Qirsi, is also prominent. It is given rules and laws, not unlike a science. As a result, the world has the qualities of a classic fantasy story, but it also features the duplicity and scheming that one would expect from a story that is partly about politics.
In order to tell this story, Coe also creates a large cast of characters. Each character, regardless of which faction he or she is loyal to, has a unique personality and a goal or desire. Some of the characters are concerned for their loved ones. Others only want money or power. There are numerous subplots woven throughout the larger narrative, and each one is driven by the characters pursuing their desire. For many of these characters, their subplots lead to personal development and change. As a result, the characters feel human, and they are able to engage and immerse the reader.
Overall, Coe’s “Winds of the Forelands” is a long but engaging series that succeeds at tightly weaving politics, war, and magic together. It features an almost intimidating cast of characters, but the characters are well written and feel like people, rather than the writer’s puppets. The final result is a series that is worth reading for any fan of fantasy books who is willing to take a step away from a Tolkienesque world in order to try something a little different.