Kynship, Book 1: The Way of Thorn and Thunder


262 pages
Contains Maps
ISBN 0-9731396-6-8
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


The Way of Thorn and Thunder, Daniel Heath Justice’s first novel,
brings something new to high fantasy in its use of Aboriginal mythology
as the ground and context of a truly fascinating Secondary World. As the
novel begins, it is 1,000 years since a catastrophic Melding forced the
Eld Green into contact with other Human nations. Now, the Folk who live
in the Everland are under continuous pressure from the Human nations,
who want to colonize it and exploit its natural wonders.

There are different Human nations, some far more violent than others,
and one determined to conquer the Everland. Within the Everland, two
factions vie for power over what to do to meet this danger. Although
most Folk still follow The Wyr, including its mages (called Weilders), a
growing group have chosen to follow an imported Human faith, The
Celestial Path, which believes those who still follow The Old Ways are
just barbarians. In this, whether they realize it or not, they join the
many Humans who fear the Folk, and wouldn’t mind seeing them wiped
out, or at least “civilized.”

Justice has set up an epic battle between different ways of life, with
interesting characters, both Folk and Human. He jumpstarts his narrative
by bringing many of the Folk together in the Everland’s capital to
choose whether or not to bow to a Human ruler’s demands that they give
up their country to him or fight back. To get there, his protagonists
must battle through dangers both external and psychic.

Justice has created a wondrous world, and filled it with fascinating
characters. He makes some first-novelist errors, such as packing a lot
of information into lumps and creating dialects that for some might
grate, but his story, with its colonial overtones, sense of living in
and with the natural world, and slowly growing tension, holds the
reader’s attention. If the next two volumes build on what Book 1 has
accomplished, it will be a very fine fantasy, indeed.


Justice, Daniel Health., “Kynship, Book 1: The Way of Thorn and Thunder,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,