Release Date: 17/05/12
In the Empire of the Saviours, the People are forced to live in fortified towns. Their walls are guarded by an army of Heroes, whose task is to keep marauding pagans out as much as it is to keep the People inside. Several times a year, living Saints visit the towns to exact the Saviours' tithe from all those coming of age - a tithe often paid in blood. When a young boy, Jillan, unleashes pagan magicks in an accident, his whole town turns against him. He goes on the run, but what hope can there be when the Saviours and the entire Empire decide he must be caught? Jillan is initially hunted by just the soldiers of the Saint of his region, but others soon begin to hear of his increasing power and seek to use him for their own ends. Some want Jillan to join the fight against the Empire, others wish to steal his power for themselves and others still want Jillan to lead them to the Geas, the source of all life and power in the world. There are very few Jillan can trust, except for a ragtag group of outcasts. His parents threatened, his life in tatters, his beliefs shaken to the core, Jillan must decide which side he is on, and whether to fight or run ...
This new title from Gollancz to me is pretty much standard fantasy fare as it falls back on the old stereotype of the older generation helping the younger come to terms with events and their own powers whilst fighting the good fight. Whilst for many this is a typical fantasy story, what does differ is a cast of misfits drawn together as they seek to achieve their goal, they fight for page space and the reader’s attention and at times it’s hard to know who you want to spend more time with.
Add to this reasonable prose and pace which makes this a solid read. The major downside for me was the spending of too much time on religion and whilst I can understand that it was necessary for the plot, it’s not the type of thing I like to spend my time dissecting or having referenced in such detail. Finally add to this a world that is carefully constructed with a wonderful concept behind and all in it was a solid enough read to announce AJ to the world.