For a mercenary with a dark history, survival looks more and more like rebirth in this bloody yet hopeful story that sets a lone protagonist adrift on a plane rife with exotic forces and entities.
When a poison-coated arrow pierces his skin, a horseback ride through a dystopian Mexican desert turns sour for Moses Stern, who was sent as a courier for several theological edicts. He becomes the target of witches who hope to use him as a proxy to destroy the dragons they so hate. What follows is a convoluted but enthralling tale of Stern’s adventure as he transitions into another plane of existence: the watery plane of Okeanus, home to thousands of islands, peoples and languages. Like Earth, the plane is beset by an imbalance of indeterminate origins but serious consequences, an infestation of blue-back dragons; tasked with traveling through Okeanus, he seeks the magus Bedwyr for a solution. His journey leads him not only to Bedwyr, but through countless encounters with the various inhabitants of this strange land. Now a shape-shifter, Stern makes use of his heretofore unknown power of bodily alteration as he attempts to escape the multiple antagonistic forces that pursue him. While alliances are formed and dissolved, loves found and lost, Stern eventually meets with the demon Kokabiel, who grants him the ability to understand any language spoken in Okeanus and, thus, to cast important spells; he also gives Stern a stone with which he can open portals to different worlds, including his own—Earth. This power is startling, but the resolution of his quest forces him to make an even more startling decision. Composed of a series of many deftly interlocked episodes, the novel traces its arc to an unpredictable but satisfying conclusion. Harvey’s prose is regal and textured, and the background mythology is exceptionally formed, fusing fantasy, sci-fi and allegory to a haunting illusion.
An unsettling, profound and richly conceived fable for fans of complex, intellectual fantasy.