Falken Calder dreams of becoming Immortal.
But as a mere scullery boy in service of the fabled Ardent Lunar Sect, his chances of rising through the ranks are slim. There is only one way he can take up the title of cultivator – to Awaken before he comes of age. Time is already running out.
When a grand tournament for the magicking arts is announced, bringing old foes to Albion’s shores – rumours of betrayal and war send Falken on a journey in the unknown. There he unearths the mysteries of an ancient, long-forgotten sect – whose secrets offer hope – and the chance for Falken to develop powers that none have seen in an age.
But Falken’s newfound powers may not be enough, for nightmare creatures, dark assassins and even the undead stalk the lands of Netherdei.
And this is only the beginning…
Fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher and Avatar: The Last Airbender will enjoy this vivid, masterful tale of magicking, cultivation and fantasy adventure, inspired by the worlds of Xianxia and Wuxia.
I picked this book just off the cuff based on the blurb after seeing the author post about it in a website I frequent. Must have been my lucky day as this turned out to be a fantastic read!
Note: This is a “Cultivation” book which incorporates the Chinese concept where they believe that humans can gain “super” abilities by growing (cultivating) Qi (life force). If you look at Wuxia or Xianxia movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon etc you can see the martial artists flying over trees and walking over water etc…those are done through Cultivation. The books are equivalent to school/training based books where a normal person trains and gains proficiency in combat or magic etc. The MC is usually a nobody who undergoes rigorous training and exercise and meditation and gains better understanding of their body or fighting style enabling them to break out of human limitations.
I would say this is actually a book of two parts. The first half (or thereabouts) follows a typical plotline similar to other books in series as we get introduced to the MC, Falken Calder through a misfortune. Then we follow the standard path of him being the underdog but perseveres through persistence and sheer will as he becomes part of sect but in a servitude role, but still aspires to be a full member and cultivator. The book moves at a healthy pace as we learn more about the cultivation paths and the world in broader detail. I liked the prose but found it a bit different (though I really can’t put on loop on what’s different) and the mix of fantasy village speak and modern prose slightly needing more of my attention, but still it was good. He goes on a quest, meets interesting people, develops more along his cultivation path and finally gains full membership to the sect, making good friends and bitter enemies along the way. And then, we hear of a grand tournament being announced, which our MC obviously wants to win. it was a fairly good read till now, but nothing to to set it apart….Or just when I was starting to think so, they author throws a curve ball. Oh my!
This leads to the second part of the book, which just took off on a tangent I wasn’t expecting. The events cascade, the dominoes fall and the pace picks up to a blistering speed that I had to binge read till the end. The tone of the book turns a bit darker and the prose just relentlessly dragged me along with the MC as they try to keep their heads afloat the the flood of events, that threaten not just their survival, but of the whole world. This is where the book rises from a decent read to a very good book for me.
Overall, this is a very good addition to the genre and one I would gladly recommend! I’m waiting eagerly for the sequel!