In this sparkling debut fantasy, a rogue swordsman gets caught up in a war between elemental mages.
Beam has spent most of his miserable life as a thieving blade-for-hire. Now, walking the Nolandian Plains of Calevia, he’s finally happy. After spending two years robbing the graves of Vaemysh savages, he now has a rare red gem—carved in the shape of an eye—that will make him rich. When Vaemysh hunters eventually catch up with him, Beam enters the Forbidden Forest, where he takes refuge in a cave. Nearby, Chance Gnoman, the Water Caeyl Mage, discovers that something (or someone) has tampered with his magical stone sentries, which protect the land. But before Chance can confirm his suspicions, Prae the Biled, a Fire Caeyl Mage, kidnaps Chance’s teen apprentice, Luren. Beam, meanwhile, learns that his cave opens into a crystalline cathedral. Inside, he communicates with warrior spirits that tell him he’s actually the savior of the hated Vaemysh race. He takes up a Caeyllth Blade before setting out toward Chance’s domain, where the mage is besieged by Vaemysh soldiers and a demon named Wonugh. When Beam and Chance cross paths, can they trust each other enough to battle Prae the Biled together? Cole is a confident, wry talent who sets scenes exceptionally well, lending Calevia a beautiful sense of place: “The shimmering Nolandian plains rose and fell like landlocked waves rolling away into...the massive sky.” Much of his prose is similarly spirited, as when Beam’s body “serenaded him with a melody of aches and pains.” Most importantly, Cole’s system of Caeyl magic is clearly and engagingly presented, and readers will look forward to seeing it in action. Such scenes, however, are often overshadowed by Cole’s tendency to pad them with runaway dialogue; the characters, though clever, can sometimes sound as if they’re bickering simply for the author’s own entertainment. That said, Cole has an epic tale to tell, and hopefully the sequel’s pace will do justice to his fabulous world.
A talky but slow-burning fantasy novel, driven by thoughtful magic.