This is Rob Vitaro’s debut effort, and I applaud it. The book is readable and engaging. Never once did it get boring, and I found myself more and more intrigued by the mysteries that the main character, Adain, was discovering as the plot progressed.
The setting: a fantasy world, with generally human creatures of various races. I appreciated that he avoided the standard human/dwarf/elf/hobbit stereotypes and instead differentiated his races largely off of their religion. The oddest (coolest?) of the races is the Tharum, who live to be hundreds of years old.
Adain is a young man who has chosen the mining guild for his career, and the story starts with action immediately as he presents his aspirations to the local religious clerics (the “merics,” in this particular continent of the world). He begins his first quest, to rid the temple of a particularly nasty kind of vermin, but in the process finds some strange artifacts, ones that will propel him onto a quest to discover the fate of his late mother.
I won’t detail the whole plot, or give away any spoilers, but he meets up with a handful of other adventurers who, for their diverse and often secret reasons, want to understand the mystery of the “ora,” a magical substance that few know about. Their mission leads them to another continent and reveals Adain’s mother’s fate, as well as more understanding of ora, the blue gas/powder/gem substance that has incredible properties.
By the end, it is clear that their mission is just beginning, and that the world’s fate hangs in the balance.
I loved the fact that Vitaro portrays the religious (and non-religious) aspects of the characters as being of primary importance. The merics come across as a moribund form of Catholicism, while the Lainor can best be described as resembling a charismatic Evangelical home church community. Is that intentional? I’m not sure. But it’s clear that the Lainor’s religion is the purer, truer one, while the merics are largely hypocrites who hide behind empty rituals and expensive, stately temples while pretending to believe in “the Maker” (aka God).
A cool fight scene reveals that true belief by one of the characters results in the Maker actually helping the group out in a miraculous way. I liked that, because in most fantasy books the Maker is mentioned but He never acts in any appreciable way. This is seen clearly in Robert Jordan’s series, where the Devil (Baalzamon) is kicking butt left and right and sending henchmen everywhere, while the Creator never shows up. In Vitaro’s world, God can really impact the world and does so, at times, in a direct way, in response to faithful prayer.
I would classify the book’s writing as somewhere between R.A. Salvatore’s early books and Robert Jordan. That is intended as a compliment. For a young indie author to write a book at that level as his debut title is impressive.
Overall, I rate the book four of five stars and look forward to the next book in the series. For his debut effort, Vitaro is to be commended for writing an exciting and inventive world!