In this debut fantasy novel, an amnesiac questions his dreams in which he’s a young medieval warrior.
In a psychiatric ward, a man with no memory starts having dreams about wizards, magic and wild beasts. In the dreams, he’s a man named Zack who lives in the Silver City, Teuran, on a planet that orbits two suns. His therapist, Dr. Peters, suggests that he keep a dream journal to bring focus and continuity to the fantastic adventures. In the dream-story, Zack’s father, Zeratok, and best friend, Kera, soon appear, as does Miku, a wizard from the land of Menak, who helps Zack embrace his destiny as the wielder of Stryker, a mystical sword. Meanwhile, the evil mage Xan’dros steals Stryker’s companion sword, Verilous, and uses it to destroy Teuran. A legendary hero named Seisoa arrives to help, and when the smoke clears, Zack and Miku head to Menak to join the Rikin Alliance of mages. In Menak, an instructor named Stein begins teaching Zack how to manipulate Soulfire, the force that permeates all life. Back in the psych ward, Dr. Peters gravely reads the amnesiac’s journal and insists that the patient finish his complex tale. Hastings delivers this hugely imaginative story and its world with clarity and speed. His prose is often evocative, particularly when describing weaponry: “Taking one last look at the naked blade, with its gentle glow of infinite, hidden power, I sheathed it.” He also has a poetic take on magic: “Soulfire is the connection of our souls, because our souls and even matter itself are born from it.” Much of the rest of the prose, however, is hobbled by wordiness, and readers may find some sentences barely comprehensible (“I could not make myself want to forget [her], yet the feeling seemed to not stop forcing this desire on me either”). Overall, the book’s structure, with each chapter corresponding to days recorded in the dream journal, is intriguing; however, most of the tale’s conflict happens early, leaving the second half feeling a bit too lightweight.
A conceptually promising but unevenly executed fantasy.