Looking for a book my father read when he was a young man in the 1980's about a young butcher's son who was the long lost heir to an empire. He was hidden on an island and grew up with some other kids.

One of the other kids was a young girl who would weave magic and make clothing for protection.

Another was a girl who wound up with a distinctive knife. She was given it by a man who was an elite fighter whose fighting unit was known for brutal tactics (in one they instance killed the women and children of a city while the regular army was fighting at the gates). When he died he gave her his signature knife, which was recognized by his people later on in the story. I also remember that the girl was taken in by another of his people and they are attacked by a fire monster; she uses a pot of water to douse it.

1 Answer 1


Sounds like David Drake's Lord of the Isles. Garric or-Reise is the long-lost heir to the kingdom, Ilna os-Kenset is the weaver of magic, and Liane bos-Benliman's friend Nonnus the hermit is the wielder of the distinctive knife.

From what I recall they're entertaining, but lacking a bit in structure. Stuff just seems to happen.

The books center on the lives of four youths from a small village on one of the islands that make up the archipelago of the book's world, known as the Isles. In the first novel, the character Garric or-Reise discovers that he is, in fact, the direct descendant of the last king to rule the Isles, exactly a millennium ago. Then, as now, the power that fueled all magic in the world rose precipitously, allowing the use of spells so powerful that they shattered the cohesion of nations, driving them apart and in the process killing Garric's ancestor, Carrus, and sinking the island of Yole.

The novels deal with Garric's claim to the throne of the Isles, and his attempts to unite them once again. In the process, he and his companions are challenged by foes both physical and supernatural, which they must overcome. The basic outline of many of the novels deals with the characters being split apart, often taken to parallel universes or distant periods in time, by some hostile entity or group, which they must then defeat before, or in the process of, re-uniting.

Magic in the series is based on a now-dead language, the Old Script. Its characters are usually drawn using an athame (made of a variety of substances including iron, twigs and ivory) and the words spoken aloud. The introduction states that these are actual incantations from the Classical world.

  • Thanks for the prompt response! I'll do some research on that title and run it by my dad. He just happened to mention it to me one day a few weeks ago and after I exhausted myself on Google searching for "a book about a young king on an island" or "a story about a young king exiled who's friend is a girl who weaves magic" I decided it would be best to let the internet community do what it does best. It sounds pretty spot-on to his recollections so Im excited to get the books so he can re-read them. Thanks again, I'll post if that's not the case, though Im almost certain you're right.
    – Solviss
    Sep 11, 2015 at 3:52
  • @Solviss: Did you ever get a chance to check this?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 17, 2016 at 19:14
  • Note: Can't recall if Nonnus was a friend of Liane (or her family), but Sharina (Garret's sister) is the one who ends up with the knife, not Liane, just to clarify.
    – RDFozz
    Aug 16, 2018 at 17:35
  • Lord of the Isles is from 1997, so the OP's father can't possibly have read it in the 1980s. Oct 24, 2022 at 7:51

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