It would appear that I’m becoming quite the floozy for fantasy novels. I’m so easily seduced by the worlds of mystic and magic, it’s ridiculous! I love that the author has the freedom to create their own rules and I get to enjoy the ingenuity of their bold creativity.
So, about the story: ***GR Buddies you have permission to skim this part ***
Fen Jacin-rei aka Ghost, is born to be an Untouchable - cursed to host the lunatic ravings of his ancestors who whisper, chatter and scream at him constantly. Permanently bombarded by too many words, too fast, too loud one over the other, they scuttle his mind and drive him to lunacy. “Let the Untouchables wander in their madness, starving and stumbling, touch them not—to help or hinder—because one wisp of a touch might alter their course, change Fate. Shackle them with the braid so all would know, all could see plainly.”… “Touching an Untouchable—for good or ill—with the intent to alter his course, was death. No excuses, no explanations, no quarter.”
Pretty shitty fate huh?
But Fen Jacin-rei has found a way to dull the voices in his head, but it leaves his body scarred and his mental state teetering on the edge of breaking point. When Fen Jacin is given to Asai (an Adan seer) in return for his families ‘protection,’ the young, vulnerable and impressionable Fen is tutored and manipulated into becoming Asai’s assassin, his tool and his means of twisting fate into his favour. And who better for the task than one who is Untouchable?
But the now grown-up Fen is no fool when he learns he has been used and betrayed by the tutor he adored. Fen turns against him, his ‘mentor’ his ‘guardian’ and burns his own path of vengeance; changing the fate of many, but none more so than that of Malick and his merry band of mercenaries.
And this is when it really gets interesting; the interaction between Fen and Malick is a whole heap of fun. *** but read this part***
Malick reminds me of a rebellious English Lord: a rake with a rampant libido, a profligate with capricious habits, OR a swashbuckling pirate sporting a perpetually smug smirk and a soft cheeky chuckle. Suave, confident, powerful, deadly, inconveniently compassionate, humorous and instantly infatuated with Fen, the angry Untouchable Ghost who is an enigma with too many mysteries that Malick really wants to solve.
Fen is socially disabled, struggling to interpret the motivation and actions of others, especially Malick’s. Fen presents a pretty, calm and calculating facade, certainly not the crazy norm of an Untouchable. He is strong, stoic and lethal when cornered, sporting a kind of madness behind his glare and hiding secrets.
*** skim again if you wish ***
All that Fen is presents a consuming need and a challenge to Malick. Now he must convince Fen to join him and his fellow assassin’s. Malick has much to offer after all, Fen just doesn’t know it yet. It could be more than the offer of help seeking retribution, more than protection, more than sex, and more than precious silence - if only Fen would trust him.
Will Malick give up his rebellious capricious ways for this enigmatic Ghost and reveal his own secrets and agenda’s? Will he really help Fen to carry out his vengeance and successfully woo the Untouchable in the process? Either way, the game is on!
*** but just quickly read this part ***
Cummings reveals the magical and manipulative machinations of this complicated plot slowly through the viewpoint of many different characters and a non-linear storyline. This might annoy some readers, but I felt this style only aids the carefully structured plot reveals. Her graceful, lyrically vibrant writing, exquisite characterisation and captivating world of Gods, mortals and blood magic are indeed a pleasure to be savoured and she earns a spot on my favourite author shelf after the first 6%. Carole Cummings is an awesome writer.
It’s easy to establish a bond with each of these characters by gaining a personal insight. BUT there’s a small down side to so many perspectives. Fen’s characterisation is the focus and becomes repetitive, because I kind of got the picture after the third or fourth protagonist offered an opinion. The author would have been better focussed on explaining the language, history, gods, and cycles – thus not having the reader rely on the glossary for clarification. She also tends to get a bit wordy between the dialog and I find myself going back three pages to check what the original question was – I hate that.
This book is the first in what is obviously a serialised story; each book carrying on where the next left off. So don’t expect a dramatic conclusion in this one, it’s going to leave you hanging. Cummings uses this book as the set up to an epic adventure and an arresting romance (I hope). I’m very much invested in how it’s all going to play out and I can’t wait to discover more of sexy Malick – he is delicious.