Cycleguy's Spin recommended the book Paradigm written by Elijah Quinn Carlson, a young man he knows who wrote this book for a high school senior project. Given the interesting plot capsule for this book, I decided to give it a try. I can say without reservation that I was not disappointed. The book was well prepared with multiple story arcs and points of view that shifted from chapter to chapter, but was presented in a well-balanced manner with very even pacing. As the story evolved, it built in intensity right up until its cliff-hanger ending. This was a professionally written novel that easily stands against other contemporary works in the fantasy/science fiction genre in terms of its interesting story line and craftsmanship.
The story involves the inhabitants of a world existing at a medieval level of technology. A kingdom is in conflict that is escalating with time, leading to ever more significant bloodshed, unrest, and instability. The land is occupied by two fully sentient species, humans and the reptilian wynts. For many generations, the two groups lived in peace and interacted without conflict. When the human emperor suddenly called for complete extermination of the wynts, the land was divided into three distinct groups, the humans who supported the emperor's plan of xenocide, the humans who opposed the emperor's plan, and the wynts. Most of the wynts have developed a complete distrust of all humans, and are seeking to avoid them altogether, but the localized skirmishes are ever broadening as the emperor's troops expand their scourging activities. These exterminations are growing to include even those humans who support the wynts.
The novel begins as a human named Roark awakens in the middle of a road with no memory of who is he. He has an intricate tattoo on his forearm that marks him as a wyntish sympathizer. Slowly he comes to understand what the emperor's plan entails, but without any sense of his past, he is forced to come to grips with the conflicts in his land and what side he will take. These choices are far from benign. Life and death hang in the balance. Just as the emperor's troops have targeted Roark for the trouble that he has stirred up, he is plucked from the existence that he knows into a completely alien world orchestrated by a mysterious force called the Overseer, who is attempting to resolve the conflict on the planet by wiping out all sentient life and starting again. Somehow Roark has a part to play in this plan. However, before Roark can make any sense of the new reality that has been thrust upon him, he is fighting for his life against other individuals selected by the Overseer. Roark makes a choice to take a stand and reject the mad plans of the Overseer, but first he has to escape the blood sport that he finds himself a part of.
I have learned through Bill that Elijah Quinn Carlson plans two more books in this series and is presently working on the second. I look forward to see how he brings everything together in this fast paced and intriguing story.