Every once in a while I have to try something new. This time, it was Faith Hunter‘s Rogue Mage trilogy: Bloodring, Seraphs, and Host. I was blown away by this series – and have found another author I love!
The wordbuilding is cool, something I haven’t run into before and the main character, Thorn St. Croix, is a tiny kick-ass whirlwind without being an over-the-top indestructible machine. Believe me, she has some very, very bad days.
The story begins a little over 100 years following the apocalypse foretold in the Bible (which, amazingly, wasn’t the end of the world). Most of the earth’s population is decimated: through plagues brought by heavenly seraphim to punish humans and through war between seraphs and demons, between humans and demons, and between man and man.
Most great cities were destroyed and people survive in small pockets of civilization with communication and commerce slowly returning. Resources are scarce. Old technologies are being reused and/or repurposed. Oh, and there’s an ice age. Apparently, Hell – on Earth – froze over. (I know, I know. But I couldn’t resist!)
There are several “unforeseen” races which have evolved, one of which are neomages. The first neomages were born soon after the apocalypse, seemingly perfect humans until they reached puberty and then their abilities to manipulate leftover energies from the time of creation manifested. Needless to say, people freaked out and tragedy occurred. Now, most mages live in Enclaves which protect them from the humans who still fear them but will hire them for their abilities. Enclaves are basically cushy prisons and unlicensed mages running around free are hunted down and killed. Can you guess what the main character is?
Thorn St. Croix is a stone mage able to manipulate the leftover creation energies in all forms of stone. When she first came into her powers, she also developed an extra ability to read/be open to other mages’ minds. In such a closed community with a large population, she nearly went insane. She was smuggled out of the Enclave before she could be licensed. As an adult, she now makes a home for herself in Mineral City, Carolina, in the Appalachian Mountains, where she fashions jewelry and owns Thorn’s Gems with her two close friends and nobody knows what she really is. Except the Darkness that lives deep under the mountains. It has plans for her, those she loves, the whole town, and even for the High Host.
Although there’s a great deal of traditional Christian iconography as the foundation for these novels, some of the referenced biblical passages are pretty obscure and therefore open to interpretation. Faith Hunter’s creative imagining is impressive and I thoroughly enjoyed her unique ideas and strong voice.
The books are quick, exciting reads – I burned through the first book in two days and the other two not much longer than that! I haven’t read a whole lot of dark fantasy and I’m not sure I could survive on a steady diet of it. But, as a change of pace, I found Thorn and her world very interesting.