The next book I’m reviewing on this blog is Aaron-Michael Hall’s novel Seed of Scorn, the second of her epic fantasy series Rise of Nazil. I reviewed the first of the series, Secret of the Seven, in a previous post which may be read here. As I noted in the earlier review, this series has some representations of sexual assault. Readers who have suffered from traumatic experiences or are sensitive about these subjects should abstain from this series.
The last book [[[[SPOILERS]]]] concluded with a war to free the land of Faelondul from the tyrannical rule of the city of Nazil, whose inhabitants worshipped fascist gods and treating humans as slaves. The good Nazilian warrior, Pentanimir Benoist, has become the new ruler of Nazil, the seven true gods have revealed themselves to the land, and a new age of peace has apparently begun. As this book begins, unrest is growing among the Nazilians who favored the old order. There is talk of revolt against Pentanimir and restoration of the strict racial hierarchy of the past. In the meantime spiritual enemies of the seven gods are reaching out to make an invasion of Faelondul, pulling hapless Nazilians under their power. The air is filled with palace intrigue and dark omens.
There is a lot going on and a lot of potential for excitement, but one thing that this book has in common with the previous one is that it moves at a glacial pace. The book is over 500 pages long, well over half of the pagespace is devoted to characters discussing the events of the previous book and characters developing their romantic relationships. In the previous book a lot of space was dedicated to graphic description of torture and rape, and this book has much less of that. It is easier on the stomach, but (and I hate to say this) for long stretches I thought it was kind of boring.
Now, to be clear, the relationships and interactions between characters were quite complex, and written very well. If I was coming to this book with the intent of reading romance, I might be thrilled with this. But, I came to it as a work of epic fantasy. Romance epic fantasy could be a genre that I’m just not familiar with, but if so it seems a very niche group, possibly someplace where fans of George R.R. Martin and fans of Nicholas Sparks overlap. I am a fan of George R.R. Martin, but romance stories bore me. This is not at all to say that the book was badly written, simply that it wasn’t for me.
On the topic of sexual assault, this book had one major deviation from the previous book and from many works of fantasy in general. In the few sexual assaults that happen in this book, the victims are male. It’s a bold move which carries an entirely different set of implications and power dynamics than the alternative, and it moves the plot forward in different ways.
Really, I think this book and this series is likely to be a love-it-or-hate-it affair for most readers. I can imagine other readers loving it. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort into getting this far in the series, and I haven’t yet decided if I’ll go on to the third book, Piercing the Darkness. I might, just to see what becomes of the events set up in this one. Fans of both romance and epic fantasy will enjoy this book, though perhaps not fans of romance and fantasy respectively.
Cameron W. Kobes is an author from Toppenish, WA. His primary genre is fantasy, though he has also written works in surrealism and magic realism fields. In January 2016 Cameron self-published his first full-length book, Tales of Cynings Volume I, which contains four interconnected fantasy novellas inspired by fairy tales. He is currently writing Tales of Cynings Volume II. On his blog kobescwrites93.wordpress.com Cameron reviews other self-published authors, primarily in fantasy and science fiction. He currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
If you are a fan of fantasy, you can look into his book, Tales of Cynings Volume I, in print format or Kindle.