The first book in the series around the immortal Andrej Delany. It was published in 1999 and is set in 15th century Transylvania.
After his wife´s and daughter´s death, the warrior Andrej Delany returns to his homevillage Borsa to meet his son Marius, whom he hat left there years ago. But when he arrives, he finds an empty village. The inhabitants were brutally slayed, only the boy Frederick had survived. He tells Andrej, that the Inquisition came to Borsa, looking for a witcher. The Inquisitor Domenicus accused the people of witchcrft, and had most of them murdered. The remaining people were enslaved.
Andrej decides to follow Domenicus, and takes the boy with him. On the way, they are occasionally attacked by the Golden Knights, Domenicus´allies, and barely escape. The two manage to get sneak into the harbour- town Constanza, were they hope to free their families by helping two thiefs breaking into the governer´s treasure chamber. Andrej also meets Maria, and falls in love with her, but their romance is in danger when Andrej discovers that Maria is Domenicus´sister.
When Andrej breaks into the fortress, he runs into a trap and gets caught by the evil governer, who brings him before a charade-court. Andrej is freed and caught by the governer´s men (yeah, that guy plays a lot of double roles…) and brought to a warehouse, where the final showdown with the book´s villain, the Golden Knight Malthus, will take place. Andrej learns that he is an immortal like Malthus and his fellow golden knights, and also Frederick is one. The people of Borsa are sold to the Arab slave trader Abu Dun. After these revelations, Andrej ans Malthus fight fiercely, and Andrej can only win due to his training under his stepfather Michail Nadasty. He the drinks Malthus blood, and becomes a real immortal. After also the evil governer is killed, Andrej and Frederick set out to free their families…
At the Abyss is the first part of the series. You can see it as a prequel, for the series´true topic. the friendship between Andrej and the pirate Abu Dun, will begin in the second volume. Nevertheless, “At the Abyss” – which describes Andrej´s emotional status – is one of the best books in the series. It has a thrilling, well-written atmosphere, the characters are great and the action is also good. Some questions remain unanswered, but itßs not that bad as in later volumes. It is probably also THE book in the series that everyone refers to, Maria is everbody´s favourite “love interest”, not because she is “the 1st one”, but her character is best developed (besides Urd, but she will just appear in the 9th volume), and her tragic romance with Andrej. Everyone hopes for a happy end for them, these two people just match.
Malthus has not much “screentime”, but he almost always dominates the scenes he is in. Domenicus is a cruel and cunning devil, you don´t have any sympathy for him, same with Jag Demagyar, the governer. These two are the main villains in the book, inhuman demons, who like to see people suffer. Andrej is also an interesting character (at least he was then), you feel sympathy for him and you want to know more about his past. Unfortunatly, only the sequel “The Vampyre”, gives us some clues about his origin (which do not always fit with the things we learn in this book )