In the third installment of Smellie’s (Ambushed, 2014, etc.) fantasy series, a warrior clan must decide if a call for peace among four battling groups is actually part of a nefarious scheme.
Clan Dekam resides in the Jatego, the largest “high rocks” (or mountains) in the Icka Domain. There are three additional clans, as well: Clans Veloian, Adeian, and Arkarian. The Dekams are primarily warriors and, unlike the other clans, don’t use their magiclike Dunamis Power in combat. They’ve also isolated themselves for many years, ever since the Great Battle, which involved all the clans. So when a masked stranger approaches the Jatego to deliver a message for Garn, the Dekams’ High-One (or leader), the clan is wary. The message is from Lord Matoca, an Adeian whose spell-like Great Utterance precipitated the Great Battle by causing all the clans to fight one another. Matoca’s message asks for a truce among the clans and invites the Dekams’ High-Council of Twelve to his castle for further discussions. Council member Snar tries to rally the Dekams into supporting the truce. But fellow member Diyah suspects that Snar, along with Matoca, may actually have a sinister agenda in mind. Smellie’s third novella, like the preceding installments, unfolds in a deliberate manner. There’s little action, however, although Diyah and Snar’s disagreement does eventually turn physical. Throughout, the author meticulously details his characters and their environment. Dekams, for example, seem perpetually ready for battle, and their collective distrust of the aforementioned stranger makes many want to simply “slay” him. There are rich physical descriptions, as well; Snar’s hair, for instance, is “like the turn of the twins [the planet’s moons] when they are in hiding. Also like the still water when a cool breeze blows across.” The plot progression is minimal, though, and the specifics about the Great Battle add nothing to what earlier books have already covered. But the ending promises more in store, and future volumes have great potential.
A series entry that advances the ongoing story at a leisurely pace, but the striking characters are a plus.