Debut fantasy novelist Lakshman offers a rousing epic in which supernatural beings threaten the world of their own creators.
Did gods and demons always exist, or did their believers bring them into being? That question springboards this Tolkien-esque tale, which includes plenty of fresh twists. In a threatened world called Edyn, archmages and adepts, including the powerful Silbane Petracles, train in a life-sustaining discipline called the Way. Azrael and Lilyth, an angel and a demon who lead the power-hungry Aeris, gear up to fight them in a looming conflict that will determine the fate of the world. At the center of it all is a student of the Way, Arek Winterthorn—a seemingly innocent young man of unknown, perhaps catastrophic, origin. The text is deftly written, barring a few missteps (“He had his wife had died”) and a few too many instances of “stunned silence.” For the most part, however, Lakshman shows a plate spinner’s skill as he smoothly balances the novel’s diverse elements and keeps the action rolling at a fast clip. The author shapes his ambitious, entertaining story with a lengthy menu of familiar genre elements—good and bad mages, anti-magic fanatics, dragons, dwarves and elves. He also includes bloody combat, a sentient sword, feisty princes and princesses, noble kings and warriors, and gates to other planes of existence—and even mixes in concepts from world religions and ancient mythologies. (The author’s descriptions of physical combat, training and strategy have an authenticity that’s reminiscent of Elizabeth Moon’s 1992 masterwork The Deed of Paksenarrion.) The story’s resolution remains to be seen, however, in a planned second volume.
An ambitious, colorful and highly readable fantasy epic.