Sanctum: Sands of Setesh #BookReview- A Beautiful Amalgamation

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Every faith has a story of how the world ends. It’s hard coded in their mythologies. But when the end of the universe actually happened, it was unlike anything ANY of them predicted.

Those Divine beings who survived the Reaping crafted a place of survival for their people, and ushered them to safety. Gone are the once glorious civilizations of myth and legend.

Gone are the heroes of ancient days: Hippolyta, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Cleopatra, and Arthur. Their stories are the foundations of civilizations seeking to rebuild in the wake of destruction. Here are peoples of myth made real, some crafted from the clay of this new world; others pulled from the dreams and nightmares of the old. Human and Orc, Dwarf and Fae. Here, The Divine have taken a personal and vested interest in the Realm. These are the last of their followers.

For 5000 years the survivors of the Reaping have tried to reassemble some shadow of the former glory that was once their respective civilizations. Cultures war with one another seeking supremacy and control while their chosen Divine continue their ancient battles in the heavens still. The names they possessed when they came here have been lost to time; but their position and function… for those who have survived… remain.

Saved from the desert sands of Setesh by Orc priest Tulok, Knight Wanderer Isolde du’Avalonne must complete the last quest of her Lord, Ser Reynard the Swift; but the denizens of the desert have other plans for the foreigner and her savior.

A tale of the Daring and the Divine.

Welcome to Sanctum.

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My 5-Star Review

The Reaping.  Right there, authors Kading and Fuentes had me.  Where the Divine have had to scoop up a handful of survivors and transplant them to another place and time; another universe altogether.  It’s a broad canvas for creativity and the world they’ve created is fresh, yet familiar.  It’s full of traditional themes blended with uniquely fascinating elements to keep readers turning pages.  Turning pages and re-reading passages.  No, not because the writing is stilted or incomprehensible; just the opposite.  Many of the scenes are so imaginatively woven I couldn’t help myself.  I didn’t want to move on. I wanted to stand within the expansive imagery and gaze around in wonder….like I was standing within the landscape itself.

Isolde and Tulok.  I loved the names of our main characters from the start.  Like the entire book, the names the authors chose reflect traditional as well as magical fantasy (which I can only hope was their intent).  Isolde is a strong female lead, full of naïve bravado and complex simplicity.  She feels like a harmony-seeker to me, though she is a Knight.  She experiences the new cultures around her with acceptance and respect, rather than trampling in, calling everyone Heathens, and forcing her culture upon the unsuspecting.  I liked that a great deal.  Everything about the story was a beautiful amalgamation of traditional and magical, right down to how the characters interacted with those they met.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there’s some serious heft to this book.  Not just in its weight, though at 478 pages, it’s not for those readers who want to devour a story over a weekend.  There’s substantial world-building, but it’s lush and sweeping and far from overwhelming.  There are theologies, cultures, landscapes, and new species to discover and explore. The story takes its time.  It never felt rushed, nor did it drag it’s lazy heels. It’s one of those timeless fantasies, like Lord of The Rings, in which you simply want to lose yourself.  I certainly am hoping for a sequel….or better yet….a mini-series!

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About C.S. Kading

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