I stayed up late last night, reading today’s novel, Back From Chaos by Yvonne Hertzberger. Back From Chaos is the first book of the Earth’s Pendulum series, which I believe is a solid foundation to begin with.
The book begins with Marja, daughter of Cataniast, lord of Catania, hiding in the castle. Bargia, a country which borders Catania invaded and managed to overthrow Cataniast. Marja only thought was of survival, but also gave thought to killing herself to save herself the terror of being captured and raped. As a member of the ruling family, she knew that tradition dictated that she be killed.
She had begun her escape when a soldier of the invading force opened the door and caught her in the act. He announced himself as Lord Gaelen of Bargia, and requested that she put down her knife, promising that no harm would come to her. In spite of the danger to herself and her people, something in his voice makes her relent. She is taken captive and held prisoner in her own room.
Lord Gaelen, finding himself the only surviving heir of his people, his father and elder brother both tragically killed in the invasion, decides to take an unorthodox approach. He presents Marja with a proposal, one that would guarantee her safety and her freedom, that she join him as his wife. Seeing the logic behind the proposal, she agrees.
Unbeknownest to the pair, the fate of their peoples, of Cataniast and Bargia is bound to their success. Indeed, it is Earth who through the seer Liethis, who demands an end to violence and a return to balance. In restoring balance, it is neither Lord Gaelen nor Lady Marja who are destined to be the main players, but rather Gaelen’s chief spy, Klast, and Marja’s lady in waiting, Bresna, who become the focus of Earth and her desire for balance.
Klast, whose childhood had enured him to hardships, hardening him against the advances of women and the company of men, whose ability to blend into the crowd and disappear, who had fortified himself against his own emotions, now must come to terms with his destiny.
It is through Bresna that he must decide his fate, and the fate of the mankind. It is though the act of saving her that he himself might save himself. His destiny is bound by oath to the house of Bragia, first to Gaelen’s father and then to Gaelen himself. Can he save both Cataniast and Bargia, as well as Bresna and himself.
What does Earth demand of him and why?
First let me start off by saying I cannot do this book justice by trying to summarize it in such a short amount of space. How can I categorize this? There seems to be many ways to do so. Fantasy to be sure, but there are elements of political intrigue, stories of love and romance. There are issues of rape, child abuse and hints of sexual abuse as well. There are graphic details of death and executions. This is not a feel good book.
That being said, it is a well-written book, one that captivates the reader. Once cannot help but root for Gaelen and Marja as they try to unite their homes against the attack of treason member of their inner circle. One is hard-pressed not to feel for Bresna as she suffers the indignation of being attacked and seeing Klast rescue her, and by doing so, seeing his defenses fall away in spite of himself.
Yvonne has written a book filled with many elements that together make up an elaborate tapestry, a story of pain to be sure, but out of that pain the birth of something greater. Out of it, there can be found a peace, all the more richer for the trials endured to earn it. But first the character’s must find a way to surrender themselves to their destiny, and find a way despite their reservations.
Once I began to read it, I was loathe to put it down, which I had to when my Kindle died. I picked it back up once my battery had recharged, eager to see where the trials would lead, and I was not disappointed. I was both surprised and pleased, primed to pick up the next installment of the series.
In short, I give this 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a great book with a riveting story line, characters rich in detail and subtleties. I cannot recommend Back From Chaos enough!
(reviewed 34 days after purchase)