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The Shattered Orb (Vagrant Souls Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Green shows a distinctive style of character-driven plotlines that swiftly draws you into the story and enlightens the reader of world detail along the way. The story has enough twists and turns to leave you slathering for Book Two: The Dragon Soul to be released in April 2017. A skillful application of action, intrigue, treachery, and magic to satisfy the most hardcore fantasy fan-boy.
The enormity of the giant's size was fully realised as it hit one of the twenty-foot stone pillars, knocking it onto it's neighbour. This toppled them all in a domino succession of noise and vibration following an overshot charge as Hiroc dodged away at the last moment. With desperation at his available choice he batted his sword against it's shins, such was the things size and the sword that might as well have been a pocket-knife for all the harm it caused. With barely a grunt at Hiroc's efforts from the giant, Hiroc then picked himself up after being swatted aside like any insect. A call to any Guardians and old gods who might hear his plea for assistance, is what Hiroc expected to be his last deed before his death at the hands of this menace. Luck held out however, as two magical attacks by unknown mystical forces struck the giant, allowing Hiroc to breath of sigh of relief. Until that is, the giant rose again, a feat that once again should have been impossible. Thankfully a further third magical attack struck, causing it to disappear in cloud of smake; leaving only the elderly augur, Saega.
Standing beside Hiroc with the fox head of his staff still smoking, the augur revealed he is the one responsible for summoning holy magic. As to that truth he didn't understand as augurs weren't capable of such feats. If it was Guardian or an old god power which answered his litany he couldn't say. Saega's smoking staff supports his claim, but it'd just have to be another in a rising number of mysteries. With amazement he knew only that the first two hits hadn't been enough. The giant had merely seemed to grunt and shuffle the smoking robe from his shoulders, as it rose to grab him by the neck; making a concerted effort to strangle the life from him whilst speaking of a vengeful justice. The giant obviously perceives a wrong, which led to it's desire of either destroying the orb or taking its power for itself. Whether an injustice had occurred he couldn't say, but given the order's purpose for existence he doubted it. What is known is that Indham's magical protection now lay in the broken shards of Aern's shattered orb, laying where the giant had stood prior to it's disappearance following the final attack.
At the fighting tournament in Aernheim, the Daughter of Enlil priestess in training, Fryda, sat waiting to witness the outcome of Alfric's match. Banned from attending the fights she'd be punished if Mother Superior Edoma knew where she currently was. But the outcome would determine if her love could seek permanent residence and work, necessary for Alfric to consider asking for her hand in marriage; something she could only do before taking her vows. Both she and her love are considered by most as the cursed Fatherless: people born as bastards but no more cursed than orphans who'd lost a single or both parents.
Despite the robes befitting her station Fryda was no more exempt from the perceived taint than Alfric is. The number of swooning and whispered fantasies of the women in the crowd as they took friends into confidence about the handsome prowess of the fighters, could say what they please. She'd long gotten over the presumed differences and had passed the age of marriage four years ago at age sixteen. Those same women used the taint as an argument to offset their jealousy as Alfric had proceeded to cross the dirt ring to place a chaste kiss upon her cheek.
He happily, but with ire, stared daggers at the ones responsible for the whispers about her, boldly speaking aloud that she had done nothing to warrant shame. Where Fryda's beliefs protected her from their prejudice she felt no need to make an outcry, as Alfric does. In her mind he is largely protected from it's backlash due to his many admirers; both male and female. Whilst the Daughters worshipped Enlil and the Acolytes worshipped Aern, there'd been antagonism between any and all orders who believed only they worship the true or correct god. As a storm settled in it was Edoma who was granted a vision, with the cost of the painful paroxym they brought, which revealed the destruction of the orb of the god the Daughters bred their own irrationality toward.
Given her age and their lengthy experience it brought, Edoma immediately suspected who might be so elitist that they'd permit or cause such a travesty to happen. Just because the Order worshipped the only god with a so-called chalice representational of their power, where the Daughters and other groups did not, she could never advocate such a crime. With the Daughters shaking in their robes and the sky thundering and lighting up the sky, she knew she still had to seek out who she believed to be responsible for the act. It might be as the Daughters freaked about, that its the wrath of Aern, but then it could just be a storm.
As a head priest of the Order Idmaer knew Hiroc and Saega were telling the truth of events happening at the Hill. He didn't need to go up to see the ramifications, the present storm offered all the proof he needed. He did however need to ensure absolute silence from the two involved in the events. If not, there'd be panic in the thousands of people who lived, worked and traveled through Indham. That the Temple was no longer lit up now that darkness had settled fully, was something he'd need to construct a valid reason for. He'd never have thought Hiroc was one of the Talented, but it was something he'd have preferred not to find out. In either case he dreaded what could come and that there was a being out there strong enough to do what would've been necessary to achieve what has been wrought. He himself had the ability to command, the very spire of the Order responds to what he deigns.
Not only would he need to manage the young man, at eighteen Hiroc still had a long way to go, but the fear of learning that a gods (carcaern) orb was susceptible to damage left a mark, that Hiroc couldn't shake. There had not been much time so the young acolyte has this on his side. His estranged wife Edoma had experienced the same during their marriage and now she manages the Daughters of a different god. Learning of the truth that orbs can be shattered was something a significant influence. The dedication to the control of information is absolute, in the past a bard had been arrested and hung, the Order under the last Head Priest had murdered a man to squash the tales deemed as heresy in order to control information. Idmaer knew the story well and that was well before he was granted privileged information after his ascendance to High Priest; for it was own father who'd made the call, and he sat in the inn listening to the tale of alters without their orbs and the fallibility of the Guardians, they could indeed be killed. Fortunately for Hiroc his obedience was already there and Idmaer had only to hint at the gallows to ensure his silence.
A diverse and complex storyline with characters linked by connections starting at one, up to several degrees of separation. Each play integral roles in defining what, how, and by whom their lives are irrevocably changed by history past and outcomes caused by one night of death and destruction. A range of cultures that appear to be different to the lay population, are at the core of their ideologies very similar, differing in most cases only by which objects are the ones defined as the superior ones to worship. The political composition is essentially the same in competing ideologies, with respective claims to hierarchical superiority being managed, as is often the case, by the control of what information is available and how it must be perceived; unless you wish to find yourself on the wrong end of a roped lasso swinging from a gallow, with your crimes being labelled by those in power as one of heresy. The adage knowledge is power infiltrates the story to show that the political wrangling of this form of power systemically reflects how the populace mimic mushrooms; they grow well in the dark (composed of what information is available); they require a base of soil that's constituted by decomposition (the lies and missing bits of information); but they perish or fail to take seed in the light (the truth of all available information).
That the people in power justify the system in the belief that they are the only ones capable of determining what those without power need to know in order to maintain their best way of life is among the oldest trick in the book that details how power is obtained and maintained in order to retain that power. The truth is that these mechanisms truly are communistic in the decisions that seek to maintain a status quo built on lies and misinformation, irrespective of dressings such as democracy. In real life the former are at least honest in that they don't dress themselves up to be something they're not; whilst the latter hides behind a plethora of lies that has the populace believing their democratic processes are somehow better. Both systems control knowledge in ways that permit the means of production to support the organisers power, but only one is honest enough to not pretend its anything different from others. Through such manifestations of power and politics they exemplify the oldest mechanisms of social livelihoods since human histories, real or fictitious, began to be recorded.
Its the bitter social practices that are hard to swallow if for no other reasons, it relates to the notions that belief systems can centre around two fundamentals: first is that people know only what they need to know; and second, that need is decided by agents of authority who justify their actions under the banner of what is the greater good and which is the lesser of two evils. The underlying assumption that social order would crack and fall into chaos should the truths be known, is the core concept used by the controllers of truth and knowledge to justify how the knowledge wheel turns, and in which direction it spins. The absurdity of that belief is that the people making those decisions are part of society, even if they seek to have people believe they're separate, and that they themselves haven't done what they profess will happen to others should those people have access to the same knowledge as the decision-makers.
A top fantasy for fans of the more traditional style, with capacities to make you think and events that offer ways to see the forest through the trees. Characters ranging vastly in characteristics such as age, gender, social positioning, and established ways of seeing the world around them. As much drama as it is action, there's a complexity that intrigues you into reading more. A fluent writing style that makes the content friendly and smoothly read. This is my first Samuel E. Green novel and it likely won't be my last. I'm going with four stars so I'm left with the option of having that fifth star in reserve for the standouts that can only come once you've had the chance to read more than just the one book in any author's arsenal.
The background intrigue is the crux of this book. The relationships of people who were striving for power, bidding their time to take full advantage of the situation. Then there are those that will do the right thing, regardless of the consequences for them. Then, we have the innocents, those that are part of the intrigue due to their birth or personality.
An awesome tale, which continues to book two.