Ostracized for his uncontrollable, three-word outbursts, a boy comes of age in a realm filled with magic, evil, and warring gods in this debut novel.
A boy named Larin spends most of his time in a four-block area of a slum known as the Wormpile, a patch kept safe by his uncle, Akul, a formidable ex-warrior with a drug problem. Whenever Larin ventures out of this zone, he is harassed by gangs of bullies sanctioned by Oarl, who rules the Wormpile streets beyond Akul’s bailiwick. Larin loves to read and eventually learns that the mysterious words he speaks mean “The Lord Escapes His Prison.” Eventually, Akul employs Laniette, a wizardress, who suppresses Larin’s verbal eruptions. But during an attack at his uncle’s tavern/temple, the boy’s emotions cause him to speak the words in front of a priest and he is banished from the sanctuary. Later, Larin finds love in Onie, a girl he once thought unattainable, as Laniette teaches him how to wield the power his words bring and find his place in an upcoming struggle to save all of humanity. Meanwhile, war brews on many fronts of Larin’s city. The Lidathi threaten the northern border; to the south, the once-conquered Seridor ominously assemble. Inside the borders, the Morphasti use Nazi-like tactics to set people against one another. In this first installment of a fantasy duology, Rodgers creates an intricate world of fabulous creatures, diverse deities, colorful locales, and spectacular battles. His characters, whether human or Lidathi, are empathetic, realistic individuals. The author’s writing style is spot-on for this fantastic tale, never straying into the type of heroic language that can often turn into a parody of itself. Rather, the prose is crisp and image-filled: “The day Larin first exploded was one of flint skies and a fog that mercifully shrouded the Wormpile’s trash-filled alleys.” Additionally, relationships are well-developed; perhaps the most intriguing is the bond between Lidathi leader Kemharak and his captive Theralle, Lainette’s husband—which leads to an exciting cliffhanger conclusion.
An exhilarating tale for fans of sword and sorcery, fantasy, and rich worldbuilding.