Michael J Sullivan
Completed 11/23/2019, Reviewed 11/23/2019
This was an okay book. It’s the first of a six volume series and a precursor to one or two other series. It was chosen by my book club on a night I didn’t attend. It felt like standard fantasy fare with some interesting world building. It dragged a little in the middle. There were two climaxes and both were fairly exciting. The clincher is that it really didn’t make me want to search out the rest of the series.
There are two main races at the center of this book: the Fhrey and the Rhunes. The Rhunes are standard humans, with familiar life spans and no magical abilities. The Fhrey are beings that live millenia, some of whom have magical abilities, called The Art. The Rhunes consider the Fhrey gods and the Fhrey consider the Rhunes sub-human. But that all changes when Raithe, a Rhune, kills one of the Fhrey. In retaliation, the Fhrey go from tribe to tribe hunting down Raithe and killing all the Rhunes.
Persephone is the recent widow of a Rhune chieftain. She was approached by a fourteen-year-old Rhune girl who has the gift of prophesy and surprisingly, some magical ability. Suri tells Persephone that a great tragedy is coming upon her tribe, a prophesy which she divined by talking to trees. Persephone asks Suri to take her to the trees so she could ask clarifying questions. On their way, they are attacked by three warriors from her tribe. Raithe and his companion happen to be nearby and save the day. But one of the attackers escapes and claims Raithe and Persephone attacked them. Now under suspicion of murder, Persephone must use her wits to keep her tribe alive in the foretold apocalypse.
The most interesting things about this book were Suri, the young seer, and her ability to talk to trees. Initially, I was psyched about the book because on the cover is a beautiful drawing of a tree. And that is a very cool part of the book, but it’s only a small part of it. Suri’s arc is more about all her gifts and her relationship with Persephone. Persephone is really the only person who believes Suri. Even in this age of myth, and the belief that the Fhrey are gods, the general public does not much believe in this little prophet. However, they do believe that Persephone is suspect.
Persephone is the main character and a good, strong woman in a time where women are still considered second-class citizens. I did like her character. The story wasn’t soapy, like being about falling in love with Raithe, although I could foresee that happening in a later book. She was a take charge person in a tribe with a fairly impotent new chieftain. I couldn’t help but think that her characterization was inspired at least a little by the iconic heroine Ripley from Alien and its sequels.
There’s also an evil chief counsellor to the ruler of the Fhrey. He’s deliciously evil and conniving. In particular, he’s perpetuating a new myth that the only Fhrey worth anything are those with the gift of The Art. All the other Fhrey are second-class, barely a few steps up from the Rhunes. And of course, he wants to rule the Fhrey.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad book, but I thought it could have been better. It felt like there was something missing, and the whole middle was just filler to get to the two exciting climaxes at the end. Sure there was world-building, and the introduction of a few other interesting characters, but it felt like a hundred pages could easily have been edited out and you might have had a better, fast-paced book. I give the book three stars out of five.