In this fantasy novel, a warrior recounts her long life spent battling figurative and literal demons.
Jaunee looks like a 17-year-old, but she’s actually been alive for nearly 10 centuries. She’s known as the world’s smartest woman, and has agreed to an interview in the present day with a journalist named Daina. She reveals that she’s part of a group of nonhuman “others” who live among humans and are capable of using advanced science to do things that some might consider magical, including telepathic communication. “Will you destroy us,” Jaunee asks, “or will you stand with us, bravely forging a future[?]” Next, she tells the story of her recently killed stepfather, Raymond Brooks, as described in his journals. In the 10th century, he began his life named Adam; he and his family fled Jerusalem for England when he was 8. After the boy’s parents died of illness, he became orphaned in the village of Drentwych. The blacksmith, Ivar, took him in, doing his best to tame the young man’s bullying and brawling tendencies. At age 14, Adam met Ingrid, Ivar’s haughty teenage daughter. Ivar tells the teen that he’s not worthy of her, so Adam eventually decides to prove himself by joining the army. This leads him on an adventure involving an undead king and a forest hermit and creates in him a nearly unquenchable thirst for vengeance. For his layered debut, author Bobrov mixes epic medieval fantasy with philosophy about surviving dark times. For example, the man from whom Adam later takes his name, Raymond o’ the Brooks, tells the lad that “Freedom is the choice you make to do the right thing or the selfish thing.” Bobrov keeps the story of Adam’s life trotting along briskly while also revisiting the present, in which strike teams close in on Jaunee’s location in Tel Aviv. Ivar also gives Adam a sword called “Troublemaker” that helps animate the action further. Overall, Bobrov’s imagination will sweep readers through this volume, which poses as many questions as it answers. Lush illustrations by Koresh (Undone By Blood, 2017, etc.) are also included.
An unpredictable, briskly paced series opener.