In the dawning, we find ourselves with Kazari, a fifteen-year-old girl, as she carves expertly upon a belt made by her leathercrafting father and metalworking mother. It is an act of farewell. Kazari is determined to declare herself in the service of the Lady this day, despite both parents’ opposition. Her calling is central to her being. This establishes an underlying conflict for the entirety of the tale.||Immersive religion is central here, in a world beset by perilous otherworldly intrusions, and in which the singular deity is real. She manifests in mental communication, in physical signings, dreams, and ceremonies. The Lady is at the core of the culture and society itself.
Rogers makes the choosing hat from Rowling’s stories seem simplistic. There is, in deistic engagement with the every day, similarity to Bujold’s world of five gods. But service to the Lady is more…warm and fuzzy…except when it is not and involves combat against horrors. The suckers, least of the invading menaces, manifest as physically viscous emotional destroyers, recalling the Dementors from the Potter books. In fact, so much of this tome is rich with concepts familiar to fans of the fantastic that it felt like a homecoming to read it.||I must emphasize that there are elements of motherly consideration by this author that make her offering most attractive. The religion does not entail life without family or without the possibility of taking a life partner. Septs, or callings within the Lady’s service, are embracive of each dedicant’s true character. No entrapment into service is practiced, and indeed it is explicitly avoided. There is a warmth of belonging and achievement quite well expressed.
One is swept along, as a reader, in an unrelenting current of effort, startlement, and emergency that simply does not allow beaching.
Kazari finds herself in a sept that involves personal danger and the all-too-real possibility of death. This is precisely the imagined scenario that occasioned her parents’ opposition to her declaration of service.
In training and testing the girl’s gifts are revealed, and those expose her to more peril. She is engaged in seeking eldritch intrusions whilst still very much a neophyte. Great danger and struggles ensue.
With just the difficulty of overcoming unnecessary modesty in coed housing and hints of becoming aware of the niceness of some men, there is nothing here that would preclude my handing this story to my thirteen-year-old granddaughter. But there is enough undercurrent of nascent sexual awareness that this adult reader felt no sense of prudish censorship.
I’ve seldom found myself so smoothly engaged by such intimately detailed and professional-level writing. Hoping we see much more from this author!!
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