In Ashura’s debut novel, Rukh Shekton—a dedicated young member of his world’s warrior caste—fights for the survival of his people.
Most of the world’s human population was killed thousands of years ago by storm-goddess–demon Suwraith. Now isolated pockets of humanity live in caste-based city-states within Oases of magical power, which can hold back Suwraith but not her vast hordes of nonhuman Chimera warriors. To protect the future of all human beings, warriors like Rukh must attain their full maturity and enter the Wildness between the Oases to battle the Chimeras. Despite his great talent and long training, Rukh is apprehensive, and the forays he joins are bloody, vicious battles. His devotion to the traditions of his culture sustains him, but he’s tested when he learns the real character of the Chimeras’ leaders, the dark plans of Suwraith and how the two are not as aligned as he’d once thought. And when Rukh begins to question the way things have always been, he changes his destiny forever. The characters, dialogue and action are mature enough to satisfy readers at the older end of the YA range, and the author weaves them all into an attention-sustaining tale. Pacing and description are also strong in what is clearly the opening novel of a series. The culturally diverse fantasy world borrows from real-world societies and places ranging from India to Europe and beyond. The somewhat racially based nature of the castes is a little troubling at first glance, though the castes are also focused on innate talents, personality traits and abilities. The novel’s hero, Rukh, is (refreshingly) a member of the warrior stratum of society and not a born leader. Although the set bears enough resemblance to J.R.R. Tolkien’s universe and World of Warcraft so readers won’t feel utterly lost, the milieu is markedly original. And with a full-color map and an eight-page glossary, the novel offers readers easy references to answer any questions that might arise.
Good fantasy fiction with first-rate worldbuilding.