The fight for peace is often a war.
To end nearly a century of war plaguing Ennea, a clan of nomads plans to bring leaders from the four nations together. They task a young water dancer named Isála to deliver a missive to a northern general, her estranged mother, and convince her to join the conclave. However, there are those who would do anything to defend their war from the threat of peace. After living a life sheltered from the violence, Isála will have to choose between her principles and shedding blood for the good of her people.
Don’t Bloody the Black Flag is a novella set in the world of the Malitu series. It takes place more than 200 years before the events of No Heart for a Thief.
This is the prequel novella to the Malitu series, and it’s set 200 years prior to the events in book one. I’m very lucky to have been sent an arc.
Black flags in Ennea signify a messenger. They are supposed to be allowed to travel in peace, but just like real history with military drummers, refugees, and the like, “don’t shoot the messenger” is rarely upheld. The ideals of peace for some are scarier than the concept of war. Some would even kill to stop the talks of peace.
I really appreciate the juxtaposition between Isála’s sort of idealized naivety and Rione’s steadfast jaded heart. Her brusque attitude is presented as knowing better, but she’s just haunted in a different way. Teshun was of course the perfect middle man as well, turning to humor and charisma to cloak and turn away the pains of war and loss.
Isála is convinced that peace can be achieved without violence, but the first time her life is threatened, she gets rocked to the very foundations of her beliefs. Once again the author achieves a story—this time much shorter—that provokes inward thinking and a deepening understanding of those we perceive as different. And AGAIN, it’s also just a good fantasy story, so if you aren’t the deep thinker, you can still enjoy it for just what’s on the page. Dulin does great with both.
I really felt the quotes below, and I feel like as a whole, it kind of embodies the entire series:
“That is not your responsibility!”
“That is all our responsibility!”
Well written, gut punching, and deep. I did find a bit of the back and forth to be slightly repetitive, but not so much so that I lost enjoyment. This is a prequel novella that does break the mold of recent times. Even though it’s written post book one’s release, it really does stand solidly as it’s own piece of writing.