BY J. TODD KINGREA
A sound debut that reminds us how important free will is.
If you're looking for a novel that has a melange of politics, romance, gruesome fight scenes, friendship and in toto, a series that could capture you, then this does it for you.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story revolves around Malachi Thorne, the Witchfinder Imperator (a highest-ranking officer) who serves for the Church, an order which rules with a tight fist and tyranny. In this medieval reign, witch practices are abandoned and those who pursue this are subjected to death. When a heretic escapes from Malachi's grip, he's hell-bent on finding and putting him to "justice". In the pursuit of this traitor, Malachi confronts demons, witches, sorcery and a dangerous dark truth of the Church which makes him question his loyalty, his ideals and importantly his belief. Thorne must decide who and what he believes in—and what he will do about it before his friends get killed in the cross-fire.
Despite being set in a post-apocalyptic world, The book has themes that reflect some of the current hot topics such as the importance of free will, opinions and importantly dangers of blind belief. I loved how the author has introduced the settings and set the premise for the saga. The characters are dynamic and I was happy to see a hero who is flawed and normal instead of having an inhuman power in the cliched fantasy/dystopian novels. The novel has the perfect pace, suspense, surprise elements and some unforgettable characters.
Although, I was able to guess the upcoming twist and ending, I was hooked by the instability of the story flow and was eager to see the pieces fit together. But I found it hard to pinpoint the exact location of the world. In the beginning, Malachi visits a town Rimlingham which was once called Birmingham (it is mentioned) and later on the narration describes places and objects that point to the United States. How did they manage to cross an ocean without a ship is a big question mark. It was quite difficult to remember who is who as there was a contradiction of names between narration and when spoken in dialogue. Not leave out the perplexity when the characters say "hells" instead of "hell" in the book.
A sound novel with a firm foot for a series that would satisfy the fans of the Witcher and Divergent series.