by Phil Cantrill
This is an epic fantasy, spanning the life of Prince Erech from age 12 through 25 while he serves as a hostage to Poseida. In the world that the author has created, Poseida is the capital of the Empire. The vasal states of the empire are required to send hostages to Poseida in order to teach them their ways and their religion. Poseida has competing temples, each struggling for power. When 12 year-old Erech reaches the Temple of Bel, he is identified by an old crone, a seer, as the doom of the high priest of Bel, Al-Jinn. The priests of Bel spend the next week torturing and degrading Erech and then try to sacrifice Erech on the alter. He is saved by the high priest of the Temple of One, where he is taken in and cared for. Thus starts a series of events over the next 13 years of numerous failed assissination attempts on Erech's life, instigated by Al-Jinn.
The author has done an incredible job of building a fantasy world with a complex society, differing religions, and deep depth in detail. The story immediately sucks you in with tension without being graphic as to the treatment of 12 year-old Erech...the author gives you just enough information for your imagination to fill in the blanks. The characters are well-developed and three dimensional. The author spends a great deal of time showing Erech's growth throughout the years through trials, tribulation, love, and death until, finally, Erech reaches age 25.
My only complaint about this story is that there is no true story arc. While there are many scenes that show conflict and resolution, the story as a whole is a series of scenes without a true "critical choice" for the main character to make and therefore no "resolution" to the story. There are numerous references to Erech's ability to be a great leader, and hints of a cataclysmic event that is never achieved in this story. I believe that the author is setting up for a sequel, however, it leaves the ending to this story a little flat for me and leaves it no ability to stand on its own.
Overall, a nice read and the story rates a 4 out of 5 in its wonderfully graphic writing and attention to detail in its world-building. On a scale of 1 - 5, however, the 'put-down-ability' factor for me is a 3.