Another Australian fantasy import from Tor, which seems to have cornered the market.
The story’s set in a typical quasi-medieval world, with the twist that the rulers of the central nation of Medalon have expelled all worshipers of the pagan gods and now run the state on rational, atheist principles. Fallon follows three main characters: R’shiel is a Probate of the Sisters of the Blade, the group from which Medalon’s governing council, the Quorum, is drawn; her older half-brother, Tarja, is a captain in the Defenders, battle-tested and canny. Both are independent, and often at odds with their domineering mother Joyhinia, a leading member of the Quorum. The third major presence is Brak, a half- human descendent of the legendary Harshini, a magical race expelled from Medalon. When the gods ask Brak to find the mysterious “demon child,” a half-human destined to lead the fight against the evil god Xaphista, the trail leads him inevitably to the two young Medalonian rebels—who, by the time of his arrival, have joined forces with peasants fighting against Joyhinia’s attempt to enforce the ban on religion. Several adventures and reverses ensue. R’shiel and Tarja are captured, tortured, imprisoned, rescued, and betrayed in a whirlwind plot that leaves little time for reflection. Brak manages to enlist various of the gods (for whom he has little respect, knowing them all too intimately) to the cause of the young atheists; the demon child’s identity is revealed; the forces of Xaphista are for the nonce defeated; and the stage is set for the two likable young Medalonians to set forth again in the next installment.
Fallon brings a fair quota of wit and a healthy dose of realism to rather predictable material: nothing earthshaking, but engaging overall.