Trial of Intentions by Peter Orullian
The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god—and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortalkind—in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures.
But there is dissent. One king won't answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse.
Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war.
And his choices may reshape a world . . . .
The second title in the Vault of Heaven series, Peter Orullian's Trial of Intentions is a mesmerizing fantasy epic that turns the conventions of the genre on its head
Series: The Vault of Heaven #2
Published by Tor Books on May 26th 2015
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Genres: Epic Fantasy
Source: Purchased Book
*This book is the second in a Vault of Heaven series – it can be read as a stand alone – but the start of this journey and our understanding of the characters begins in The Unremembered*
Trial of Intentions brings you into a world on the brink of war and in the midst of mythical and political upheaval. The author takes the time to build – in creative detail – the environment and the societies that bind this civilization together as it unravels. He makes no attempt to avoid the expected themes or tropes of the fantasy genre but rather threads them together to create a world that builds on of the darker aspects of fantasy. It poses the over-arching question:
Could you live with the consequences of where you permitted destiny to take you?
The story’s told through multiple points of view (third person, subjective, limited – for the English majors amongst us) moving the characters, and the story, forward through the telling of events often occurring in tandem to one another. Although, it can take a minute to catch the rhythm of the POV shifts (they’re neither abrupt nor pull you out of the storytelling just plentiful) once you realize that each discovery or action told through each character builds on the whole without tainting it with the opinion of perspective that can often happen with one over-reaching narrator. Knowing the impact of what (seem like) personal decisions – from their point of view- on themselves or others is vital to understanding the direction of the story.
Orullian explores the idea of prophecy from a new angle raising the question of: what if when serving your sacred duty you focus on one aspect of your task over the other as more important only to realize not only were you wrong to do so but you can never undue that mistake.
I found the dialogue between characters pointed and felt it fully enriches your involvement in these moments of discovery and confrontation. The characters, Tahn, Vendanj, Wendra, Mira, and Grant (there are others as the story advances) each have a role – often of cataclysmic change or realization – that greatly impacts the direction of their world: acts made in anger, demands made of others, withholding transformative information from someone, a choice not made, a burden unloaded to the detriment of another. Their feelings matter, their motivations are important, and the consequences can’t ever be discounted.
You have a “hero” who doesn’t just chaff against the directives of those seeking to mold and shape him but outright rejects their direction more than once. A mentor who’s motives you not only quickly question but you outright disagree with on more than one pivotal occasion. Unlike many epic fantasies that include a “return of the outcast” them, in Trial, you’re introduced to a whole host of characters on the other side of “the Veil” many of whom raise the question of who/what/why exactly are you fighting against.
I have to say I like journeyman/quest tales; meeting a character and knowing that you’ll be traveling along with them learning about their life path or embracing a destiny previously unknown. I think these stories make for some of the best world-building, myth exploring, and character creation. You become invested in the characters and willing to follow their journey (even when you’re yelling at the book – yes I still do that – because someone just did something you find consummately stupid).
This is not short story but is one told with intention (yes pun). There are no wasted words or “throw away scenes.” This book requires a slight (I read a lot so this may be a bit relative) time commitment. That being said, I’m usually willing to give a writer time to, as they say, get to the point. I like the unraveling of a mystery, the telling of a tale through an epic exploration. Orullian more than makes the journey worth the reading.