Friday, June 26, 2015

The Flames of Shadam Khoreh

The final novel in the Lays of Anuskaya trilogy by Bradley Beaulieu, entitled The Flames of Shadam Khoreh, is the tightest and best written of the group. I think that is saying something given how much I have enjoyed this fantasy series about warring peoples, unlikely alliances, deep seated maneuverings, and the supernatural thread woven throughout. This part of the tale takes place several years after The Straits of Galahesh. There the future of the world teetered on the brink as two ancient souls schemed and manipulated and controlled their way to bring about the end of the world. They had sought out elemental powers to tear open the very fabric of space and time, all in an attempt to bring a merging of the material and the supernatural planes. Only at the last possible moment did an unlikely alliance of former adversaries who had set aside their mutual mistrust and their own agendas come together to work toward a common goal and avert the coming disaster.

In this narrative one of the ancient shaman has inexplicably survived using powers that none had imagined possible. Her single-minded intent was set upon a course to systematically eradicate the final protectors of the realm. Only at the very end does her ultimate scheme and her ultimate purpose become understood. It is not about bringing forth the end of the world or even elevating herself to a higher plane, it is about the lust for unchecked power, for election into godhood. In fact, it seems that she has finally uncovered the knowledge of exactly how to make this happen.

While the story elements are quite fantastical, Beaulieu manages to build the plot to a wholly organic crescendo, never stepping beyond the bounds whose roots have been laid from the outset. Certainly this was a tale with commonplace thematic fantasy elements, but the author developed the plot with imagination, with a unique vision, and with more than a little skill and artistry. Definitely a recommended series for fans of fantasy fiction.