A Tale of Infidels
Readers may be familiar with Erik A. Otto from his previous science fiction books, A Toxic Ambition and Detonation, which was one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018. Otto now turns to intrigue and high fantasy with his Tale of Infidels Trilogy, with plans to have all three books released in the first half of 2019.
In the first book of the trilogy, A Tale of Infidels, readers are introduced to the world of Matteo’s Lands, where religion is king and country and everything. You are either a believer or a heathen, and there are not many of the latter. Nevertheless, it is still a complex world with different peoples and lands. All believe in the great god Matteo, but have different perspectives, beliefs and alternate views on the prophecies, and as such view each other very differently, and this is where the tension lies. The days are also counting down to two big prophecies: the Day of Ascendancy when the world will literally turn upside down and those chosen will join Matteo, and the coming of the Third Internecion.
Book One of the trilogy is the story of the Truthseeker, the Traitor, and the Imbecile.
The Truthseeker is Sebastian Harvellian of Pyros, a second-level apprentice. On the day after his examinations, he joins a group on a hike to check out a ruin that is in fact a Forefather Ruin, a place of extreme religious importance, and therefore a strict protocol is to be followed. Sebastian has his faith and devotion further confirmed, but faces challenges as one is not allowed to search such a ruin without monk supervision and faces punishment accordingly. There is also the issue of the live gargoyle. Upon achieving third-level apprenticeship, he is assigned a harsh teacher and spends most of his days needlessly copying. That is, until he gets an opportunity to search the most ancient of archives and begins looking through what is purportedly an original copy of the Book of Canons, with some very startling revelations that turn his faith completely on its head. Then he is declared an infidel, his life is forfeit, and he must flee for his life and abandon everything he thought he believed in.
The Traitor is Hella Pomerain of the royal family, who has only ever known a life of splendor and luxury, with many suitors at her beck and call. She believes with her Announcement she will become a focal family figure and continue this wonderful life she has always known, but things quickly change. She learns she is to become an envoy for the royal family, just as she’d hoped, but to Judud Jawhar. A place she only knows from stories of blasphemy and war and strife. Hella is to foster relations with Jawhar with the goal of opening trade routes and preventing any potential for war. Once she is there all her preconceived notions are changed, but she faces new challenges, as many of the noblemen have issues with her not simply as a royal from Pomeria but also a woman.
The Imbecile is Darian Bronté, who is in training to become a great warrior and begins his story in the middle of a orienteering contest. His group believes they’d completed the contest, but things quickly change as they find themselves alone and somewhat abandoned and have to fend for themselves. When one of the Rangers eventually finds them, they learn they are under attack from the Sambayans from the north. Darian is brought into this war and faces his first test, seeing his good friend murdered before him, and barely makes it out alive. Helping a pregnant woman, he must learn what he truly hopes to achieve with his calling.
The beginning of A Tale of Infidels needs a little editing to make things move faster as the reader is trying to learn about the world and how it all works, but once the characters and settings are established, it becomes a compelling novel. The characters each have strong arcs and by the end are very different people to how they started. There is tension and compelling interest with all three, and the reader is left wanting to know how each of them fares. The first book in the trilogy does end on a pretty big cliffhanger, so it’s good news that the second book, The Day’s Wake, is due out soon after the first.
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