a well-written adventure with a compelling central character
This is a story woven with layers of plot and salted with persuasive characters. Life in the clan is vivid and the realm of the Fallen is intriguing. The underlying theme of the series on the one hand, and the main character on the other, are compelling enough that you’re saying, “Where’s the next book?” as soon as you come to the last page.
The title confused me at first. “The Fallen, The Greatest Sin”, what was that about? Overeating? Trashy romance? Burning fossil fuels? It could mean just about anything. And I didn’t know if the main character had enough substance to catch my interest. A woman with a feisty personality and a pink feather embedded in her skull, sprouting out of her forehead?
I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it. Fortunately, I was persuaded to give it a shot.
The framework for the series appealed to me. Something had gone wrong with the world. In ages past, a great sin was committed and the tribes were cast out and separated from one another; their Creator, hiding and silent. Each group had a different tradition about what the crime had been and clues to repairing the breech. And someone had been gathering fallen people from different parts of the world into a secret society dedicated to piecing the puzzle together and restoring the lost world.
Chavali, the woman with the feather, immediately takes center stage and remains there, carrying the tale from beginning to end, and winning you over entirely by the charisma of her personality.
As the Seer of her clan, a distinct people group of a couple hundred that lives and travels caravan style, Chavali uses her ability to read minds and occasionally prophesy to earn money for the clan. But the gift, while it earns her respect and service, is isolating and tedious. The man who loves her, whom she would’ve loved too, is a burden to her with his possessive and lustful ideas. She can’t, in fact, let anyone touch her unless she’s willing to be swamped by their thoughts—which would exhaust even the most generous soul.
She comes across selfish and petty at first, but you soon realize that she has set herself apart for the clan. Her love for them, her courage and intuition, and skill at reading and manipulating people, make up for her quick temper and childish habits. She’s watching over them like a spiritual guardian and when the time comes to protect them, she’ll do whatever it takes.
I appreciated the writing. The fantasy world seems familiar enough that you don’t feel lost while retaining an original, creative quality. The characters are strong and real, and the magic seems bound by understandable limits, not unexpected or unreasonable. Chavali is well thought out, clearly painted. The authors portrayed her intuition seamlessly in their descriptions and used clever language devices to capture the foreignness of her accent.
How interesting that a seer who foretells the future states that “the future was fluid” and believes “everyone has a free will”, and that becomes the pivotal moment in the drama! Far from being at the mercy of the aggressors or the spirits, she drives the story as an independent.
“Better to choose your own fate than to be a slave to someone else’s choice,” she says. Then she proceeds to do something “that the spirits would never expect.”
That’s when I sat up and decided, I love this.
A word to parents: There are a few discrete sexual references. Some of the descriptions of nightmares, fighting, death scenes, and spiritual forces, could be disturbing for adolescents with vivid minds and are unsuitable for children. This is purely a work of fantasy, however religious families may be concerned about some of the supernatural aspects in the story.