• The hero. • The seer. • The child. • The condemned.
After surviving two bloody purges that nearly exterminated both the Grey Clan and Orsenmuray City, the elf and harlequin survivors struggle to bring the tent city of Almjarhad to life. Surrounded by the ocean and desert, these inhospitable lands are slowly being developed with the aid of their magic.
As the culprit of their misfortune, the condemned elf Lord Jamarnid is forced to rely on his son Jarahad to rule the city due to ending up disabled before his frantic escape. Bitter about his situation because he wanted to be executed, Jamarnid distrusts the true intentions of the seer Talgel.
Unwanted by the Elf Kingdom and his harlequin great-grandfather Hurrujat, Jarahad struggles to accept his fate. As the interim ruler of Almjarhad, Jarahad wishes to complete his sword initiation to protect his people… and gain Talgel’s unrequited love.
Talgel is a woman of perpetual mystery with dubious morals. Upon awakening magic that grants her the ability to predict the future with absolute certainty, Talgel lost her eyesight. She now wears a masquerade mask to hide her true feelings.
Embroiled in this story is a young hybrid elf named Tioja, who doesn’t understand his role in the greater scheme of things.
Four characters are about to have their fates manipulated, and their willpower tested. All for the sake of a demon inhabiting Talgel’s body that will use them for its own nefarious purposes.
Fragmented Fates is the first part of a duology that takes place after a purging event that has sent elves and harlequin survivors into an inhospitable land where they try to build their own city from the ground up. This is a shorter story, only some two hundred pages in length, and almost reads more like a first part of a larger story rather than a true standalone. There is a beginning, middle, and end point but it does feel like most of the story is setting up something larger that will unfold in the second half of the duology. It’s not bad, mind you, just be aware of this as you read. Oh, and this book is clearly full of woke garbage themes!!!! (Couldn’t resist, Nancy, big hugs & all the love, keep doing the excellent reviews!!!!)
But what is presented in this first book is interesting, nonetheless.
The main plot arc of FF is that for the city of Almjarhad to prosper, the survivors need to separate themselves from one another, no longer two clans (the Grey Clan of the Elf Kingdom and the Orsenmuray harlequins) living together in one city. [For reference, the harlequins are almost a demon-like species with reddish skin tones, pink eyes, and bat-like wings]. Half-elf/Half-harlequin seer Talgel has seen the future and it is her prodding of her former lover, the current steward of Almjarhad, Jarahad, to see the split of the clans. Jarahad’s father, Jamarnid, was an integral focal point of the previous purge, and Jamarnid sees Talgel’s visions as demon sorcery. Finally, we have a halfling child named Tioja who’s potentially the key cog in Talgel’s visions.
As far as the characters go, Talgel is probably my favorite because her actions can be considered dubious at best, deliberate at the worst. She is interesting because she has this “phantom beast” she can summon, when in reality it’s a demon, and said demon shows her visions of the future that always come true. As a consequence, Talgel has lost her eyes (disabled rep, must be woke garbage…), so she wears a ceramic masquerade mask. But make no mistake, Talgel has some really dark aspects to her character and that makes her interesting. Jarahad represents the opposite side of the coin to Talgel’s grey morality. He wants to do what’s right for his people, so much so, that he’s willing to perform some dark magical arts to possess a demonic harlequin sword. His heart is in the right place, but to get there, he has to do some very very…um…bad things. He’s also in love with Talgel but she continually refuses his approach for marriage. Jamarnid is kinda like the grumpy old disabled warrior that hates everyone (oh my, two disabled characters, way too much woke garbage), you know, basically Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. And Tioja’s arc is integral to the overall plot because his parents are key to the separation of the clans, plus he has some nasty magic inside him that Talgel goads out of him.
I found the magic system to be equally interesting and unremarkable in its execution, some really cool concepts mixed with the ho-hum every day type of magic. The concept of mages and magic is just there, we have some earth mages that do some things with the earth off page, that’s the unremarkable part, nothing overly special or unique. Just mages being cool-ass mages doing mage stuff. However, the phantom beasts, the harlequin tattoo magic, the mana absorption parts, those are really awesome and I wish we had more of it! I’m certain more to come in book 2. The phantom beasts are neat because they are different for everyone and have different personalities/behaviors. Jarahad undergoes the harlequin tattoo magic multiple sessions within this book and it ends with this test that gets insanely dark, but the resulting magic he claims is pretty neat. While the mages being mages is your standard fare of magic, the cool part is that some magic wielders can absorb said mage magic while it’s being used. So there are times in the story when one magic user is being a jerk and Talgel absorbs his mana, thus cutting the spell off. I thought that was nifty. (Also, poor cheating doofus had some humorous curses levied against him after his mana outburst, I chuckled)
The prose is straightforward and without a ton of purpleness. The pace is relatively brisk, no slow parts, nothing to bring down the growing tension of the plot arc. There is hardly any info dumping, nor are there concepts underdeveloped. This book isn’t action packed (I think there really were only two scenes of decent action), so if that’s what you’re looking for, this book isn’t for you. But if you like political maneuvering involving mysterious visions of the future, then this is for you!
If I had to pinpoint any criticisms that might detract from taking this story from pleasantly good to great is that some scenes would have worked better on page than off. For example, when Tioja summons his phantom beast, we witness this through Talgel’s POV but instead of showing the beast, we actually get her phantom beast/demon showing her another vision. I would have liked both Talgel’s vision but also Tioja summoning his beast through his perspective. I mean this kid just unleashed a monster of magic, show that to me please! Another thing that could have been clearer was the timeline of this book. I’m pretty certain after Tioja’s parents’ issue is resolved, maybe fifteen years pass? I get that these are long-lived elves but he’s still presented as a young child. Finally, I have to admit that there is a very dark scene with a trigger warning piece of content that might be difficult for some readers. I was shocked by it and it did make me see Talgel in a different light.
Overall, the story was a quick read and I’m very interested in seeing how this duology concludes when book two is released this year.