In the opener of this debut YA fantasy-adventure trilogy, families with god-granted abilities are at war but may unite against a common enemy when they become targets of the Imperial Army.
As a member of Neil Vapros’ family, you’re either a socialite or an assassin. The 16-year-old strives to be the latter, his kin pitted against two other bloodlines residing in the city of Altryon. Centuries before, a deity—the Man with the Golden Light—gifted certain families with special abilities: the Vapros, Taurlum, and Celerius clans, and a fourth lineage no one seems to know. Everything was copacetic for a while, but a feud among the families, its origin murky, eventually began. Though an emperor took power to combat the grudge’s adverse effect on Altryon’s economy, the fighting continues. Neil, who can materialize in diverse places (but not through walls), botches his first assassination attempt against the Celerius family. Nevertheless, possible retaliation from that clan isn’t the most pressing issue: it’s the Imperial Army’s sudden aggression toward the families, from imprisonment to murder. To form a strong rebellion, Neil and the rest of the Vapros band will have to align with their adversaries and form a plan that entails getting past the city’s wall, where wastelands reputedly await. Prue’s action-laden story features struggles that are sometimes psychological rather than physical: Neil, implying that his father’s regularly abusive, declares his family a “military unit.” The narrative likewise debunks stereotypes. Wealthy Lilly Celerius, for one, has her own servant, Jonathan, whom she cares for like family, while formidable commoner Bianca Blackmore shows that gender and class status play no part in determining individual strength. Bare-bones descriptions throughout prove beneficial, not lingering on the environment, as Altryon’s relatively small, and instead centering on a speedy plot jampacked with multiple confrontations and newfound alliances. There’s plenty to savor (betrayals, shocking deaths, etc.), but the author allows some mystery to remain and carry over for upcoming volumes.
A worthy series introduction with a blistering pace and a gleeful heap of mayhem.