It takes place in a fictional world thirty years after a brutal war ended which resulted in a reluctant peace among the nations of Abra’am. The main perspectives are mostly the young heirs and heiresses to their kingdoms, with Gwenivere being the heiress to the most powerful kingdom Xenith which, as the story progresses, is not as it seems.
For the chapter organization, they provided suspense for the story, especially in the near end. It was as though they were interconnecting shots in different scenes in a movie.
I did think that some chapters ruined the suspense. They did not give me time to speculate on a character’s injury or imprisonment. It usually immediately followed up with a chapter detailing what is happening to that character. Of course, the only times that did not happen was during the more crucial parts of the book.
The ending was a bit convoluted, which I would hope the second installment would provide some clarity on it.
What really defines the characters struggles involves the political consequences of the hidden animosities of every nation. More specifically, they have connections to the Dagger of Eve. It has the power to grant immortality to its possessor. Although it was a MacGuffin for one side of the book, there are other conflicts which abound in the book.
However, since there are many nations with their own interests, it can be confusing as to which side they were taking. Though it is clear what they are passionate about and why the major players in the treaty behave and act the way they do.
A common theme among the characters themselves include the flexibility of names. Even the devoted Garron has had a name change. While it would make sense for Dietrich to engage in this type of subterfuge, the function of surnames seem to focus more on the process of ennobling with the Laighless family being an example.
The magic in this world–called aurora–plays an integral part of the weapons and the clothing; though they are the elemental magic typically present in video games. With the exception of the dragon-tender Zaron, there does not seem to be a strong link between the religion in this world and the magic.
Even though Gwenivere masters magic, the book does not seem to deal with any occupations or guilds that specialize in magical warfare. Not only that, but there was a crucial part when everyone should have believed Gwenivere. People know she could conjure auroras.
Magic plays a well-known role in the world. At the same time, the ones who are able to summon fiends are not.
The worldbuilding, specifically the geographical names and the history, do borrow from biblical sources. The continents Eve and Abra’am derive from the figures of the Bible. Eve refers to the first woman and Abra’am strangely enough referring to the names of the patriarch Abraham. As for the royal family of Abra’am, there is the history that also borrows from Abraham; specifically the births of Ishmael and Isaac. When the monarch found that his wife could not conceive, he marries again and impregnates the second wife, only to find that his first wife can actually conceive. Because of this controversy, there are struggles that pervade even to the current timeline.
While it would make sense if the characters reflected some form of attachment to the Hebrew heritage, linguistically or culturally, in order to make the continent names more relevant, the source of the worldbuilding specifically borrows biblical sources through a European Christian perspective in Abra’am and an African Christian perspective in Eve.
Between Gwenivere and her knight Garron, there is a very strong connection. It would make sense considering how Garron was assigned to Gwenivere. There is an almost romantic vibe between them, yet Gwenivere does not seem to address it, either positively or negatively.
As for the romance element that plays a role in the story, it does make me think about William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, with the theme of choosing love over order being a central conflict of the play.
Gerard is the king of Xenith, who is shown as being honorable and yet politically ill-adept. This does work as a character flaw which showcases the complicated history among the Xens and the other Abra’am nations.
I did like the interaction between Dietrich and Seera, which was quite humorous. She mainly exists to inform Dietrich that he is not the awesome Ezio Auditore figure that he positions himself as.
As for X’odia, she did not start off with any personality, rather the prime motivation for her existence in the book seems to be that she wanted to see Abra’am. However her character did expand throughout the course of the book.
There were moments that did confuse me so much, I had to reread the passages to get a clear image of what is really happening. I had to ask myself “Did that just happen?” as well as “What did just happen?”
What I thought was interesting is the use of common verbs within the context of embedding magic into a weapon, with verbs such as “to call” or “to touch.” In this way, this technique makes the magic in the world more colloquial to the people inhabiting it and the reader simply learns from it along the way without heavy exposition. This can be paralleled with Frank Herbert’s Dune series where in the planet Arrakis water is considered a precious commodity, so much so that it also becomes a precious linguistic commodity, with the noun “water” used to refer to the physical substance but also the concept of value.
The verbal phrase “made to [verb]” tends to show up throughout the novel. I did get the sensation that it was supposed to represent an archaic form of grammar, however it was a bit intrusive. Another phrase I thought was bothersome was the cliché phrase “He/she held his/her breath and let it go.”
Calling Eight Daggers Out Of Ten
So far, this series looks like a very solid start to an epic series. It has well-established characters and an uncomplicated plot. There were a lot of unanswered questions, though I would hope that they are explored in the second installment.
Brooks, Elliot. “Peace and Turmoil: Book One of the Dark Shores Series.” Elliot Brooks. 2018.