Five Stars  

 

Aelia said, “We must fight on, until all curses are lifted.” She’s the mother of the first main character we meet in this novel filled with a unique magic system, interesting characters of all types, and illustrations of multiple spiritual truths.

 

We must fight on, until all curses are lifted.

 

Marshal is a cursed boy in a world where cursed people are hated by all. Because his mother is a healer, he is barely tolerated in their small village. His curse? He cannot speak, he cannot write, he cannot sign. His mother has posted in their little house a sign that says, Nod means yes. Shake means no. He must think hard about before he can remember even that rudimentary communication. Much worse are his seizures, especially the one that makes him drop a log and cause another boy’s leg to be badly broken.

 

How was he cursed? This world’s magic system is such that anyone who harms another is cursed with some physical infirmary. So, did he or his mother sin that he was born mute? No, his father, a lord, raped his mother. As for all rich, royal people in any universe, exceptions in the law were made for the six lords that ran the six areas of the land such that the curses fell not upon the Lords, but on their children. Nice.

 

This is a land of bindings and cursings.  People feel bound to the land they are born in and to anyone who saves their life. This brings in Vincent, who was saved from a drowning by Marshall, and now he must protect Marshall until he saves Marshall’s life. Vincent hates Marshall, and says so constantly to Marshall, but whenever Marshall is threatened, Vincent feels the magic pull of binding and rushes in to protect him. Vincent is planning to become engaged to a beautiful girl, but when Marshall and his mother must flee the village, he must go along as well, which exacerbates his hatred.

 

People are cursed when they commit a crime or harm someone, which is why cursed people are hated.

 

Then follows an urgent journey to lift Marshall’s curse for the mother Aelia, Marshall, Vincent, and a not-quite-an-elf addict to starshine as they battle with magic creatures and an assassin.

 

The novel alternates chapters between Marshall and Seri, who is working toward becoming the land’s first woman mage. She is quickly caught up in an embroidery of conspiracy, secrets, lies, friendships, and discovery of herself, the land, and magic. Seri seeks not only power for herself but also the answers to the following questions: How can the land be held together? How can justice be restored?

 

Marshall and Seri meet in a climactic battle that is as explosive as any I have ever read. The Christian parallels in the search for how to lift curses are beautiful. There are astonishing reveals, exotic peoples, and frightening battles in the book.

 

I’ve read the book twice now, both times with utter pleasure. I could not find anything to not like about the book. It is well edited, fast paced with some touching places to breathe, and easily understood despite the complicated magic system. There are no spells, just powers, and no one can curse another. It is the laws that curse. Some people might be bothered by just how villainous the villains are and the high body count of innocents they bring about.

 

Because rape is mentioned and there is an attempted rape, I would recommend this lovely book for teenagers above the age of sixteen to adults.

 

Ratings:

 

Heat: None except for the non-explicit mentions of rape and a thwarted rape.

 

Cursing: There are only fantasy curses with no particular correspondence to English curse words.

 

Violence: There are battles between humans, fantasy creatures, and supernatural creatures. There are explicit wounds that need to be patched up. There are people crushed by falling stones and an off-scene amputation. The body count of innocent people murdered is high.

Availability: You can find this title on Amazon.

Lelia Rose Foreman has raised and released five children. Everyone survived. She also homeschooled fourteen years with similar results. You can find her Christian science-fiction, A Shattered World in English or Spanish. She writes science fantasy adventure, Tales from Talifar with her oldest son, a video game artist, under the name Rose Foreman.

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