The fate of a world is tied to the destiny of an ill-starred warrior from a besmirched bloodline in this captivating, dark fantasy.
Walter’s debut novel, the first in the Torchlight Histories series, opens from the perspective of Rodin Velau, a renowned historian and member of the Liatem people, who possess the ability to absorb the memories of any person or thing they touch—living, dead, or even inanimate. A mysterious woman captures him as he investigates the puzzling destruction of several far-flung towns, and he must reveal all he knows about the Guardian, a fearsome warrior and the primary instigator of a devastating war that has consumed the entire world of Altera. As Rodin describes him, “He was like a magnet that attracted everything to it. You can name any important event from the past three decades and he was at the center of it.” As he narrates the Guardian’s troubled childhood and rise to power, Rodin introduces readers to a mysterious priest, a lord about to assume his father’s throne, and the son of a hero who’s been raised as a slave. As such, the novel frequently moves between a variety of characters, each distinct and vividly realized, and the plot provides plenty of unexpected twists and turns. The world of Altera is fascinating and rich, but, at the same time, the exposition and worldbuilding never feel heavy-handed. Walter helpfully provides maps, a small glossary, and a chart outlining the novel’s social caste system for those who may be overwhelmed by detail, but it’s easy enough to keep track of everything without them. Some readers may find the novel’s graphic descriptions of gore and violence disturbing (“The gash split her vertically like ragged lips that were continually expanding, exposing insides that pulsated and danced like maggots slithering over trash”). However, fans of Game of Thrones may well find themselves with a new obsession, as this suspenseful story will keep readers flicking through its pages long past their bedtimes.
A gripping, immersive fantasy novel and an exhilarating first entry into an engaging new world.