Imagine you are called by the Infinite Himself to be a prophet, and the only thing you know for sure is that prophets rarely have long lives. Then imagine you are just a girl, soon to be betrothed to be married, and accepting this gift will mean you must walk away from your intended, your parents, and even your own country, to follow His leading and speak for Him wherever He takes you. This is the choice facing Ela Roeh of Parne in R.J. Larson’s debut fantasy novel Prophet (Books of the Infinite #1).
Once Ela accepts this gift and is confirmed by the priests’ council, she and her sister Tzana leave Parne and journey through the desert. After escaping a desert monster called a scaln and encountering a band of soldiers whose leader tries to kill her, they eventually reach the capitol city of Istgard, a country of exquisite beauty marred by corruption and evil.
It is here that she meets Kien Lantec, an ambassador from the Tracelands who has been charged with conspiracy by the rulers of Istgard and whose story become intertwined with Ela’s as the story unfolds. The girls also bond with a destroyer, one of the massive and deadly horses ridden by the soldiers. Between these elements, the political intrigues within the various nations, and the prophetic visions and revelations given to Ela, this story has something for everyone.
This may sound like typical young adult fantasy fare, but I was completely blown away by this book. From the very first page, I found myself immersed in a world rich with symbolism and depth. Although Larson draws on images and events from the lives of the Old Testament prophets, she adapts and reinvents them in such a way that adds layers of meaning to this story without taking anything away from the Biblical accounts.
It is this richly drawn world, layered with compelling characters and a balanced mix of action and thought, that leads me to add this to our 5-Star Reads.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing an advance reading copy and for allowing me to be reminded of how wonderful it is to discover a new world within the pages of a book. You can see what else I am reading and discovering these days at my blog In So Many Words.