Conquering Fate Takes Sacrifice.
Victoria of Ourtown believes two things: that the bright, wandering star in the heavens is an abandoned spacecraft which brought her ancestors to this world and that destiny and the will of gods are nonsense. Vic used to scoff at stories of wizards too, until she acquired their powers. Once a warrior, now a secret wizard, she just wants to live an ordinary life and find a way to atone for the mistakes she’s made.
Ashel of Narath knows that the wandering star is the god who created humanity, but this difference of opinion doesn’t stop him from loving Vic. All that keeps them apart is a thousand miles and a tragic loss.
Lornk Korng needs Vic and Ashel to execute his plans for conquest. The fact both want him dead is but a trifling snag in his schemes. A bigger problem are the world’s indigenous aliens and an ancient enemy whose victory could wipe out humankind.
As plots and counterplots clash across time, Vic and Ashel must choose their allies carefully, or risk losing not only each other but everything they know.
A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.
I’ve read a couple of versions of this book, but I’ve sat on a review until cracking through the audiobook, where I think the story excels the best.
It is an interesting tale, picking up from A Wizard’s Forge, but not in a happily ever after sense. Vic is a closet wizard where wizardry is banned. Latha’s other royal family are equally fraught. Queen Elekia is hanging onto power by her fingertips, Ashel is crippled with rapidly reducing future options, and Bethniel is the pawn in the governmental powerplay. The only positive is Lornk Korng is deposed and imprisoned and the war is over.
It should be the dawn of peace, but it is anything but. All the baggage from book one is dumped into the cauldron of political infighting, and a discontented populace struggling to make ends meet. The question of what happens when the soldiers come home that was dodged in the LOTR films, lands front and centre in what initially seems a successional crisis, but is the second round of a global conflict.
Then half the cast disappears down the rabbit hole…
The sci-fi elements in book one, plus the use of magic in a non-magical world are skilfully woven into a number of twisting storyarcs that give a widespread cast page time without being overly bloated. Current and past characters intermingle as legend and survival of the human race struggle towards each other, while fighting amongst themselves and their enemies.
Without giving much away, don’t expect a disneyesque ending. Pretty much every character is tormented by their situation, the challenge ahead, or their lack of options. No-one is unscathed in a pretty punchy ending that is stunning in audioformat as it twists and shocks.
For me Earnk, is a tad underused, Ashel is tormented beyond the point he needs a good slap and Wineyll still annoys me. No-one is a hero, everyone is flawed and quite often events (and Parnden) get the better of the characters in the past and present. In that regard, the realism is brutal. Just like in STNG, Picard doesn’t immediately recover after Best of Both Worlds. Here Everyone hates Lornk Korng, Parnden and Meylnara, and the damage accrued has a cumlative effect.
There is a lot to pull together, and if you’re banking on the likely outcome, you may find things become worse and unexpected. Race and faction fight everyone, or stand inactive – unable to act. If the current world lacks magic, the old does not. If you like big booms, portals, siege warfare and tense, impossible situations, you can’t go far wrong.
Tight editing, elegant prose and a seeming rampant desire to mess up every character in play hides a elegant storyline highlighting many human flaws. The heroes are the ones able to function. With luck they may stay standing, and in war – who can you trust.
There’s plenty of life in this world if developed further, particularly the first contact.
About the Reviewer
S.D. Howarth is a British fantasy author, living in East Yorkshire with his wife, two children and two ungrateful cats with an endless yearning for food. By day, he works as an IT Manager. By night he writes (and edits) in the attic, finally getting some use out of his degree from UCNW Bangor.
This is his debut fantasy novel, set within ‘The World of Sanctuary’ with a further two books planned in this series.
A previous short story, ‘Halidom’ from ‘Crater’, can be found in The Blackest Spells Anthology published by Mystique Press.
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About The Tryphon Odyssey (The Voyage #1)
The world of Sanctuary is not a kind place. Many races have fled there across the ages. Fewer still have survived and flourished—or survived. Humankind is the most recent to seek refuge, and the most cataclysmic. Since their arrival within the city-state of Atlantis, the embassies and tribes of man have formed new nations across several continents. Their misuse of magic in a prior age turned the seas acidic and drove their ancient Gods mad. The great contradiction of the current age is that it is only with magic that sailing ships like warship Tryphon criss-cross the oceans to protect trade routes.
Navigator Edouard Van Reiver departs from shipboard routine and petty politics when he stops Tryphon against age-old superstitions to rescue two survivors, inviting aboard blood, fire and death.
Sunjammer Gabriel Dagmar squanders his precocious talents through daily tedium to hide from the more terrifying depths of magic.
Lady Carla’s escort mission is in tatters, and needing rescue from the acidic sea is the least of several concerns.
Coxswain Grimm will need every one of his decades of experience to keep the Tryphon men alive, the officers on course, and quell the threat within spilling over.
No good deed goes unpunished. Events require they assume new roles to fight an unknown assailant, as their anti-pirate patrol mission veers into the unknown. They will need skill, luck, or a hint that the Gods of Sanctuary still exist to rebalance the scales of a power play that could tear asunder the fragile balance the World of Sanctuary teeters upon. Can they hold the line and do their duty, or fail and doom their Spires Kingdom?