From R.A. Salvatore, the fantasy demi-god that brought us Drizzt Do’Urden and Cadderly, comes a brand new series, The Coven! The first book, Child Of A Mad God, introduces readers to a new world with all new people and creatures. It is one wild ride watching these events unfold, in typical Salvatore fashion. Curious? I bet. Allow me to explain further.
In a desolate area on a formerly unknown world, readers are subjected to a bombardment of new sights and ideas. Fans, old and new, will notice almost no similarities between this new series and anything the author has previously written. Great thought and care went into the creation of this new world, something Salvatore knows well since he has previously created other worldscapes. While most of his writings have taken place in the Forgotten Realms setting, he has, nevertheless, created several other planes of existence to house his ever-growing collection of heroes and villains.
This particular world is teeming with life of a more rustic sort. Simple villages and hamlets populate the main reaches of this first novel, with much speculation of majestic cities and kingdoms that exist beyond the horizons. For our purposes, though, the tribes that scrape out their meager living around the mountains suffices. For while the world is a massive place, our young Aoleyn is having trouble enough exploring the reaches of her summer and winter homes, for hers is a tribe that migrates based on the season. Raiding in the warmer months to sustain their people in the colder ones is a way of life. The small towns that they pillage and plunder call them the deamhain, which sounds remarkably like demon, if you ask me.
Their ferocity and willingness to kill makes this name well deserved, for they are a barbaric tribe that should be feared. It is their possession of certain powers and abilities that gives them a true advantage, however. For they have discovered a way to tap into the earth itself to supplement their own strengths. Magic in the form of colored crystals enable this tribe, the Usgar, to do the most amazing things. Though, in truth, they use these crystals most often to aid them in hurting others. There is a huge downside to this, as their usage of these stones draws the attention of malevolent evil, henceforth known as the fossa. They fear the fossa and with good reason, for they are prey to its predatory nature.
While our story delves deeply into this people and their ways, it focuses mainly on Aoleyn and her innate abilities where these crystals are concerned. Her curious nature is coupled with her precociousness, lending itself to trouble on a fairly regular basis. None of her teachers can seem to make her understand that she should follow instructions and custom. Her independence is both a blessing and a curse, causing her no small amount of pain. But, in the end, her fearlessness is what truly drives her, helping her discover things the rest of her fellow witches have not. How she will make her way in life is still unwritten, but the path is becoming clearer.
As always, Salvatore weaves other tales into his primary story. The most prevalent of these here is that of Talmadge, a trader of sorts. Traumatized at a young age, he has taken to wandering the world, exploring far beyond what he would have otherwise. His are the eyes through which the reader sees so much of this new world, bearing witness to the trials and tribulations he endures all the while. His is the voice of reason and solace, creating a compassionate view where others seek merely to survive or manipulate. But his lot in life is one of suffering, some of it self-imposed, much of it not. Where his path converges with that of Aoleyn’s is where our story breaks off, forcing the reader to wait.
As expected, the tale is one of amazement and wonder, coupled with misery and sadness, for that is how life is for many. There are other smaller, yet important, tales woven amongst those of Talmadge and Aoleyn, but for now they are the ones driving our plot forward. Salvatore subtly reminds his readers of injustice and inequality all while showing us that environment does not control destiny. I have long believed that his writing speaks to us all, in one way or another. It has consistently shown me that all people are equal and it is circumstance that is often the true culprit. Given a chance and a choice, I believe we can all rise up and be better people.
Child Of A Mad God is spectacular and I am now impatiently awaiting the next! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for reading, folks!
When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home.
The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night.