This is a complex adventure of political and religious rivalry, set in several nations of a fantasy world where supernatural powers intervene in human encounters. Spiritual bondage and fervour, cruel power struggles, brutal treatment of slaves and blow-for-blow accounts of battle to the death have the reader gasping with apprehension or seething with fury. But the main theme is the hero’s spiritual journey from fervent submission to what turns out to be a subtle deceiver – through selfish atheism – to final acknowledgement of the truth and kindness of the God from whom he has been fleeing.
The complex relationships between the various tribes and nations with their different religious allegiances, strange names and languages, together with mythical objects and beings, prove a challenge to the reader.
The book is well written, the plot enthralling and the pacing maintained throughout. I had reservations about what seemed to me gratuitous violence, implausible recovery from injury and the somewhat incongruous magical elements. Also, I have trouble accepting the idea that the supposedly true and good God not only condones but instrumentalises suffering and mass slaughter in order to woo a proselyte. Some apparently important characters (Saeral, Gillard, Shettai, Philip) seem to fizzle out in an unsatisfactory way but perhaps that is an intentional lead into subsequent books of the series.
I’m not sure the average reader would grasp why this is categorised as Christian Fantasy.