Through timeless realms and parallel realities, Ariana journeys to discover her true self. J.S. Chancellor has created realms out of old mythologies: Middengard, the land of mortals whose last city Palingard is slated to fall to the soul-devouring Laionai, of Eidolon. Once human, the Laionai evolved into a hive consciousness, gifted by the shape-shifting Dark Goddess, Ciara, with the ability to steal souls. The only salvation for the remaining mortals is belief in the myth of the lost land of Adoria, itself doomed to fall.
Readers come to fantasy seeking the Otherworld. The unfolding intricacies of strange realms are like the unraveling of a great mystery. Perhaps we all guard a legend deep inside our souls, a sanctuary that we keep safe from the corruption of the world. Chancellor builds on this fine resonance to keep us reading. She is particularly adept at conjuring up strange creatures like the ”not quite horse or dragon” Dragee, and the Laionai, like a cluster of ancient Chinese sages.
The story opens with Garren’s brutal execution of a rival warlord. He is utterly ruthless, seemingly without heart or conscience. At the same time an agile, gritty red-haired girl, Ariana, embarks on a mysterious journey, only to be attacked and wounded by Garren. Something about Ariana stirs feeling in Garren that he isn’t supposed to have and he spares her life. She is rescued by a powerful winged warrior who forces to accept an alternative reality. By doing so, Ariana discovers her true identity and the role she is destined to play.
Son of Ereubus is a fun read, fast paced and exciting. As the plot darkens, more secrets come to light. Ariana grows and Garren finds out he has a heart.
I would love to see deeper development of the Dark Goddess, Ciara and her worship. Chancellor gives us a tantalizing glimpse that will hopefully by more fully exploited in the next two books of this epic trilogy.
This book made me think of Anne Bishops’ Dark Jewel series in its pacing and atmosphere. If you like those, and the genre of dark heroic fantasy in general, you would no doubt enjoy Son of Ereubus.