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Monday, May 3, 2021

A Tale of Infidels by Erik A. Otto review

 


Order A Tale of Infidels: USA/UK


ABOUT ERIK: Erik is a former healthcare industry executive and technologist, now turned science fiction author. His works of fiction include A Toxic Ambition, Detonation, Transition, and the Tale of Infidels series. Detonation has been named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018, and is a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for 2018.

Erik's works of fiction expose the impact of cultural and technological themes on society in a number of futuristic and otherworldly settings. He focuses on delivering intricate plotting, engaging characters and action-driven storytelling to immerse the reader in thought-provoking events and circumstances.

In addition to writing, Erik is currently serving as the Managing Director of Ethagi Inc., an organization dedicated to promoting the safe and ethical use of artificial general intelligence technologies. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife and two children. 

FORMAT: Published by Sagis Press on April 30, 2019. Page count - 282 pages. A Tale of Infidels is available in trade paperback format at amazon in the us, uk, canada and other european stores, and in kindle ebook format worldwide. Cover art by Karolis Zukas.


OVERVIEW: You can't have enough gargoyles. The cover piqued my interest and the synopsis compelled me to give A Tale of Infidels a chance. Although it's not perfect, I started the second book as soon as I finished it.

A Tale of Infidels opens Otto's series with a countdown to a prophesied cataclysm (Day of Ascendancy) and the ensuing period of chaos, conflict, and upheaval (Third Internecion). The prophecy states that the world will turn upside down, the unbelievers will be wiped out, and only the truly pious will remain. I'm a sucker for cryptic prophecies and the ones including gravity-defying events and mythical beasts are a must.

The story follows three characters whose arcs focus on different aspects of the world. 

Sebastian Harvellian (The Truthseeker) wants to continue his religious education and make his father proud. He wants to serve Matteo more than anything. The answers he finds raise more questions, questions more troubling than he could have imagined. You will see him attacked by a gargoyle, drenched by the Red Rains, and come into possession of a book that could undermine key tenets of the Book of Canons.

Darian Bronté (The Imbecile) is a peculiar character who suffers from echolalia, which forces him to imitate others. This disorder makes him a laughingstock among the other military cadets. After an unexpected battle, he flees the battlefield and seeks refuge in the countryside, where his arc intersects with Sebastian's one. And yes, it doesn't end well for him.

Hella Pomerain (The Traitor), Princess of Pomeria, becomes an envoy. She was hoping to get an assignment in a rich and exciting place, but finds herself on a road to Jawhar - a distant enemy nation. Despite adverse circumstances and lack of experience, she does her best. But it's not enough.

All of them feel three-dimensional and relatable. Their story arcs involve strong conflicts - political, cultural, military, religious, and ethical. As the Day of Ascendancy approaches, they have to reassess their beliefs and convictions, multiple adversities, and survive. Otto does a good job of juggling their storylines and creating a lively environment without too many infodumps.

The story takes place before the Day of Ascendancy. The chapters begin with dates, and it's not always easy to navigate and place events in the timeline. But that's a minor thing and not too distracting. The writing style is straightforward and to the point. It could use some polish to make it smoother and improve the flow, but it does the job of telling the story well enough to keep the reader immersed.

A Tale of Infidels is a great series opener. It drops the reader in the middle of the action keeps them invested until the end. It ends with a nasty cliffhanger that forced me to start the sequel immediately after finishing the first book.

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