In this debut fantasy novel, a world steeped in religious tradition faces monumental changes set in motion by a royal general, an insolent prophet and an inhuman mystic.
Stratas is a land ruled by a collection of kingdoms that operate on moral examples set by a long-dead, dark-skinned messianic figure known as the Daughter. But as discontent brews, secret, forgotten powers stir, and three unlikely figures may soon transform this society ruled by the past. They are Lord Lawrence Eastrowe, the King of Annalith’s brother, a staunch, violent military man who’s rejected the glamor of royalty to earn respect on the battlefield; the audacious prophet Huuphet Darious, who performs arboreal miracles while making dire warnings about the Daughter’s lies and predicting the return of the true God; and Pence, a member of the Amaline race—giant, green-skinned creatures who live among the trees—who must facilitate the reincarnation of his people’s creator. This convoluted fantasy debut alternates between Eastrowe’s, Darious’ and Pence’s first-person perspectives, and struggles to make each of their inner monologues distinct. This format causes confusion throughout the novel; early on, the characters’ differences seem too slight, and later, they’re all revealed as skilled, stubborn but principled outsiders with disdain for authority, despite their obvious idiosyncrasies. Although the descriptions are vivid, the strong focus on the narrators leaves the supporting cast undeveloped, which makes it difficult to understand why the narrators fight for such faceless masses. That said, the novel deftly avoids the common genre pitfall of relying too much on exposition, instead using natural digressions to inform the reader of its world and its characters’ pasts. As this is the first in a series, readers may expect cliffhangers, but instead this volume does little more than set up the pieces for potentially more eventful entries to come.
An ambitious fantasy tale hampered by underdeveloped characters.