Game of Thrones meets the Old Testament in this earnest fantasy’s allegorical take on the Christian faith.
For centuries, two northern kingdoms have been at war: Gartigraccia, founded by the followers of a fiercely protective deity known as the Father, and their enemies, the pagan Rodain. During a period of relative peace, Adathor, Gartigraccia’s king, discovers a secret rebellion within his ranks, led by Calathir, one of his own sons. Before he has time to investigate, one third of the king’s forces rebel from within while Rodain warriors storm the castle walls. Thanks to the treason of King Adathor’s son, the Rodain are able to steal the Gartigraccians’ most powerful artifact: the Opstone, a mysterious sphere that enables levitation and flight. Now armed with a floating citadel and a fleet of airborne ships, the Rodain threaten to overtake the continent unless King Adathor can find help further in the south. Meanwhile, in the northern wilderness of Rodain, deep-delving miners discover ancient tunnels beneath the Earth, where they awaken something monstrous in the dark, and two strangers from afar arrive in Gartigraccia on the backs of giant sea turtles with news concerning the long foretold coming of the Son of the Father. Archer’s detailed worldbuilding provides plenty of easily digestible mythology and what should be enough unexplored regions of the map to fill out the rest of the planned trilogy. The plot is fast-paced and engaging, if not particularly revelatory, and Christian readers will enjoy the parallels with the early Kingdom of Israel, even if the story’s black-and-white perspective on morality—embodied by warring factions that are either purely good or purely evil—makes for an epic tale bereft of nuance or uncertainty.
A mix of biblical tropes and fantasy archetypes, somewhat shackled by the narrative’s lack of real questions, risks or shades of gray.