A golden glistening city is not the usual backdrop for an adventure story. Mainly, you think about dirt-covered trails with weeds poking out like fine fingers trying to unsnarl travelers. But in Dominion, we find ourselves in the honorable, and unlikely, city of Grimpkin, filled with both religious and bourgeois overtones. This debut novel, from the pen of Daryl Chestney, is a classical epic fantasy about the quest for power and knowledge. The story focuses on Lakif, an Acaanan, who is obsessed with requiring the fabled Rare Earth Stone. Lakif, due to the fact that she is classified as an Inhuman, is an outcast in the city. She hires another Inhuman, a half-man Istani named Torkoth, as a paladin. The two, with only a mysterious deviation to guide them, hunt for the stone in the gargantuan town.
I especially enjoyed how the plot and the main characters were not stereotypical. Unlike the typical oppressor hero and arrow-loving elf, we get two flawed, personality rich characters. I also enjoyed how much of the action was really inside the head of Lakif as she struggles with the tasks before her. Her insecurities are only matched by her resolve to achieve. The fact that both heroes were seen as outcasts also makes it easy to relate to the story, because feeling misplaced is a universal experience.
The book succeeds in showcasing Chestney’s talent for detail and brilliant similes. Each sentence is adorned with clever poses and beautifully written lines that belong more in a gallery than a book. Chestney is also brash about his influences, which range from Shakespeare to the Bible. I do wish there was more of a cohesive ending, but because this will be an ongoing series, I can overlook that. With hopes of another book on the way, and heaps of literary talent, this is one writer to keep your eye on.
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