Not the least strange thing about this story is that it’s a winner: the story of its young protagonist Jonas Espian, found abandoned as a small child in the village of Darnel, taken into care by the family of his only friend Florencia Regalla ( later love interest) leaves you with endless speculation as we discover our protagonist is more than a helpless lost boy.
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Hiskandrios Genesis is so rich and gorgeous in its detail that it is easy to visualise the lands as it swoops and swooshes between universes, monsters and wizards, humans and mages. This is a book that is surely destined for the big screen. This makes it difficult to judge as an ordinary story because so much about it is extraordinary. It is Tolkein, which means its world is already venerated and beloved by so many.
The first chapters are set to a fantastically busy, robust pace and tone. It moves forward calmly with an adolescent Jonas and Florencia gifted with powers of wizardry beyond that of ordinary humans. Florencia’s mother has passed away by now, money is scarce and Flo’s enterprising father arranges a place for each of them at Cappesand Academy in the neighbouring city of Bessou that can only be described as a selective school for Wizardry. Florencia’s talents for magic are immediately recognised by the academy’s Masters but Jonas is yet to prove himself.
Then the story puts its foot down sharply, racing through timelines of history and war and, crucially, the universe’s darker side. The shadow people. By the time the next phase of the story settles we learn Jonas suffers from total amnesia without identity or background except for a range of extraordinary powers in mind reading. He awakes on a battlefield surrounded by monsters and demonstrates his advanced powers of the mind. With plenty of earthy grit and action Jonas manages to kill the monster and at the same time rescue a set of twin warriors that later become his only means of proving himself innocent. Afterwards Jonas is picked up off the battle field, and after some cold political analysis treated as a prisoner by the allied force that had arrived after he had managed to kill the beast monster.
Here we learn that the city of Bessou is a wasteland and Cappesand Academy has evolved into an institution of war run by a War Council made of the old masters from its previous universe. And to the reader’s delight we meet up again with Florencia. She is no longer a child but a fully matured warrior queen, valiant, flawed and haughty with the title of High Warden Regalla working directly for the Yasman Lodge, the elite military unit of the academy.
When Florencia is sent to interrogate the prisoner it becomes breathlessly tense as she immediately recognises Jonas. Yet he has no memory of her and Jonas learns much from Florencia but mainly that ‘days of peace’ are over.
If this alternate universe brings intensity, then there is plenty of new personalities and magic that create an ever more impression of intelligence and depth however specious we discover them to be. Whilst I am still yet to complete the story, it’s not hard to predict that Jonas, portrayed initially as a simple innocent becomes a towering master of muscle, payback and action to conclude what I can only describe as an epic fantasy opera.
Congratulations to the author.