3 1/2 Stars
Khalen the Mih’schen is adrift. Since the death of his mentor, he’s been journeying with two Solemsiel Master Arrangers, trying to save a religious relic. His mentor rescued him and taught him about the Great Composer, and how to do magic with His music. Khalen believes, but still he harbors doubts. Why did the Composer allow his slavery, and the death of his devoted servant? Why did He permit the treachery of Khalen’s former friend, Skaret? Khalen’s always been able to rely on others to prop up his faith, but suddenly it’s he who must be the bastion of faith for others.
Khalen’s always been able to rely on others to prop up his faith, but suddenly it’s he who must be the bastion of faith for others.
Brin’tac, the Lah’grex governor of a province on the planet Gal’grea, has been caught in a trap. His wife and children have been abducted by his own overlords. To release them, he must participate in a nefarious plan. He complies for his family’s safety, but wishes there were another way. The plan requires him to solicit the help of Khalen and his friends- while hiding the truth. Brin’tac believes the Great Composer to be a happy fiction, one of many ways of understanding the powerful music that all the races use. He has never met anyone who believed differently. Of course they’re deluded, but still, he is curious…
The world building in this novel was first rate. There were quite a few alien races portrayed, and each time a new race is introduced, it’s accompanied by a picture. I especially appreciate the continuing theme in the book of people (and races) being defined by their individual choices, not by their heritage. The music-as-magic angle is inventive, and it’s sustained throughout the book. The characters were well rounded and had their own story arcs. There’s a constant emphasis on faith- both coming to faith, and defending one’s own. There is even a music track to accompany the book, which you can purchase separately here.
That’s not to say that the book was perfect. The world building was impressive, but the number of different alien races mentioned made it difficult to keep track of who were what. This was made harder by the amount of world building and back story that the book contained. At times I had trouble following what was happening. The author’s emphasis on faith conversations was a little stronger than I would have liked- but then, the author does clearly state on his site that he focuses on apologetic fiction. The ending, while not a classic cliffhanger, does require you to buy at least the next book to find out what happens to the main character.
I enjoyed meeting this world and the characters! I think you will too. Try the music, it’s exceptional. In fact, I think I’m going to go listen to it some more now.