Cathedral of the Sky: Pact Arcanum 1.5

Rated 4.14/5 based on 7 reviews
Venice, Italy, 2039. Michael Danvers was a child prodigy who made a habit of living up to expectations, until the night he witnessed a vampire attack and his latent ability as a shapeshifter awakened. Desperate and alone, he must leave his comfortable life behind and launch himself into the supernatural world to make a place for himself. More
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Words: 39,220
Language: English
ISBN: 9781476347226
About Arshad Ahsanuddin

I am Canadian-born, but lived in the United States for most of my life. I moved back to Canada for work a few years ago. I am a hematopathologist, a physician who specializes in using biopsies and laboratory data to diagnose diseases of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Yeah, I'm a blood doctor writing about vampires. The humor is not lost on me.

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Review by: Kelly Hawkins on Jan. 08, 2014 :
I was generously given a free copy of Cathedral of the Sky from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cathedral of the Sky occurs concurrently with Sunset, the first book in the Pact Arcanum series set in a unique, interesting, and complex world. It is the story of young Michael Danvers, the hero who saves the day at the end of Sunset. We already know about Michael's life--and his destiny which is where this book ends--and thus it is an expansion of that story from Michael's perspective. Because of this as well as the complexity of this fascinating world, it is better to read Sunset before this book. This novel is less convoluted and more linear than Sunset and therefore less confusing. It could be read alone, but the universe in which it takes place is complicated and is not explained as thoroughly here. I enjoyed the beginning of the novel far more than I did the beginning of Sunset. Unfortunately, the novel didn't stand up to the first few chapters and I was not happy with the way it progressed or ended.

This expansion of Michael's story doesn't deliver a whole lot more information that what is presented in Sunset. A significant amount of the text is directly taken from the previous novel. While it is necessary to repeat those events, I would have appreciated a slightly different telling rather than verbatim writing. (An excellent book that did a better, although not perfect, job of describing a scene from two different perspectives is Houseboat on the Nile.) I was able to skim these scenes in Cathedral of the Sky and thus this was a very quick read.

The primary difference here is the addition of a sort of love interest, William. I say sort of because Michael is oblivious through most of the book and William is gone by the time Michael is told about William's feelings. Which brings me to the biggest problem that I have with the Pact Arcanum series: the relationships, some of which are disturbing. I don't feel that emotion is expressed in a way that is believable or in depth. The characters talk about how they feel but I never really buy into it. In fact, although this series is labeled M/M Romance, I wouldn't categorize it that way. It is a modern fantasy/science fiction crossover and succeeds much better from that perspective. In Sunset, I felt that the relationships were just part of the saga because relationships always are part of epics, and that the "soul mate" idea was only included to appease those looking for romance. In Cathedral of the Sky, I felt the romance didn't fit at all and was just added in order to make the book fit the same genre as the other books in the series.

Although the novel has a teenaged protagonist, it is not appropriate for all teens. For example, one scene begins with the completion of a sexual liaison. Although sex scenes are increasingly common in young adult books, it is not something I personally think is always appropriate and this one falls into that category. Here is one example of the extreme age differences that permeate this story: The sex scene is between a 20-year-old and a woman three times his age. Worse is the relationship between William, who is 20, and Michael, who is 13 when they meet. William doesn't tell Michael of his attraction because of the age difference, but the whole novel takes place in the course of exactly two years and three weeks, and William only appears for the first nine or ten months. Yet the alleged HEA is based on this very short period of interaction. I have a major problem with that.

I think this extreme age difference is completely unnecessary. Michael is way too mature and calm to be believable. William is intelligent and capable and he could have been younger. He could have been a young genius, too, not as young and not as much of a genius as Michael, just precocious, and advancing more slowly. Michael didn't need to be so young either. He was captain of major space vessels when he was 14. A 14-year-old might be capable of that but no way does he have the level of diplomacy and leadership required. No matter how mature a young man appears, or how brilliant, his emotional maturity is a different thing. Extremely intelligent young people often are emotionally immature as a result of the dichotomy between their age, intelligence, and inability to relate to their peers. Plus, there is absolutely no substitution for experience. Experience brings more information and a 13-15 year old just hasn't had enough. Think of it as research. It takes time to gather facts and that short period of time just isn't enough for someone to do all that he needs to do to accomplish what Michael does and also read enough and experience enough to understand the subtleties that create a great leader. Brains don't make a leader, wisdom does, and that takes time and experiences with other people.

This story is sad like the other books in this series. Despite this fantasy world full of the incredible and that which is difficult to accept, the author tries to add realism in basically one area: the mortality of humans. This is the one thing I don't like in my escapist fiction. I don't want to come to love and care about people and have them die. It's what I call the Joss Whedon syndrome: No one ever has what I consider a happily ever after. Whedon creates the most amazing series but never lets any characters be happy for long. Yes death and loss and divorce, etc., happen but there are plenty of people who stay together, in love, until they die of old age. I get the same impression of randomly throwing in tragedy with Ahsanuddin. However, even negative emotions aren't well explored. In both books, Michael attends the funeral of a close friend. In Sunset, he is barely paying attention in the scene, much more interested in something else going on in the room. We are led to believe the dead man is just a fellow academy student. In Cathedral of the Sky, Michael is very close to the person and yet almost nothing is changed in the scene from the version in Sunset and is repeated almost verbatim.

Overall, Cathedral of the Sky is well written with interesting characters that takes place in the fascinating and unique world of Pact Arcanum that Ahsanuddin has created. However, the framework is flimsy and based on a story we already know with little added. The characters are shallow and are in desperate need of being fully fleshed witch they deserve. The emotional depth is lacking and the romance is secondary and actually feels tertiary to the story. Michael's feelings for William are out of the blue and unbelievable. The story had potential but it just fell flat.

2.25 stars rounded down because of the extreme and unnecessary age difference.
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)

Review by: Jackie Fraser on Dec. 26, 2013 :
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Arshad Ahsanuddin ‘s book Cathedral of the Sky (Pact Arcanum #1.5), is a well written story that grabbed my attention within the first few pages, and would not let go right up to the last page. The story was intriguing, the characters engaging, and the action consistently strong and well paced throughout.

Emotionally - be prepared for some laughter and some tears. I definitely felt drawn into the characters, and had a hard time letting them go at the end of the story; both the main, Michael, but especially William and Ariel, the main’s supporting characters, and best friends. The romantic tension is very low-key in the story, appropriate given the age of the Michael. Though some actions of his definitely remind you that even though he may be a genius, he is still a teenager, prone to make hasty decisions. But he seems to be a genuinely good and likeable man, trying to avoid the spotlight and live his dreams, while being constantly forced into it by circumstance.

Though a sci-fi novel, the emphasis is on the relationships between the characters and within the development of the main’s character. Though there is definitely a fair bit of science to the story - most of it is used as background and description, so there isn’t too much technical detail that can bog down so many reading a sci-fi novel. And for sci-fi fans, the author thankfully refrains from a great deal of tech-speak that can stop a story short by either concerns of “what did that just mean?” or “um I don’t think it works that way?” The author’s world building is well done, with many new ideas on some well used story elements. I especially like his portrayal of what two eternal enemies can accomplish when they stop fighting each other and use all that energy and power to their mutual benefits. From vampires and sentinels fighting on earth - to taking people to the stars!

I am a fan of many types of books, okay, I love almost all books - but paranormal and sci-fi are two of my favorites. I enjoyed this book a great deal, and will definitely have to look into the rest of the series. I did worry that I had not read the first story, that I would be lost and have to scramble to catch up, but did not find this at all. Maybe to some, they would prefer to start from the beginning, but for me I did not feel that lost at all. Well except for one small factor that gave me a bit of confusion. The title of the book seems to refer to something specific, which I feel, from the end notes, means something to the rest of the series - referring to a specific memorial or structure, which does not exist within the timeline of the story, or even mentioned. But I guess I will have to read the next story to find out what it is.

All in all, a very enjoyable read.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Issa S on Dec. 19, 2013 :
Michael Danvers, a 13 year old human child prodigy is in Europe with his family when he “kindles” which brings forth his latent Sentinel gifts and becomes a shifter. This is mainly Michael’s story and we follow him as he leaves his family and instinctively searches out other Sentinels. He finds them, but the experience is not what he expected. Up till this point of the story, I would have rated it a 1.5 or 2 stars. The first 30-40 pages were tough to get into. The writing was dry, lacking life, and it took me three days to read. While I appreciate when authors don’t use the first couple chapters as an info dump, I felt lost in the world building. Perhaps if I’d read the previous story I could have followed better but I didn’t understand the players or why things happened the way they did. It was a bit frustrating.

But Michael heads to America and enters the Spacer Guild Academy, and that’s when everything changes and the book really takes off. Michael continues his prodigy status, moving through his studies faster than anyone should, especially one of a mere 13 years. Different from his peers, he never really fits in but makes some friends including William, a 20 year old cadet who takes Michael under his wing. Never fear, the relationship is platonic. Had Michel been legal William would have been all over him but William doesn’t cross that boundary and the two of them become best friends despite the age difference.

When Michael turns 14 he graduates the Academy. He has his plans mapped out but tragedy hits and those plans collapse. Surrounded by those who want to control him and choose his destiny, Michael fights back in a conclusion I never saw coming but felt it was best for this amazing child.

I had some problems:

The world building. There were dozens of times I felt lost. It wasn’t so bad when the sci fy aspects came in because I don’t attempt to try and figure all those out but the paranormal aspects confused the heck out of me.

The Los Angeles Incident. Several new players introduced here that show up later. I still don’t understand why the long narrative was necessary and how those people play in Michael’s world.

The jumping forward in time. The story format involves a scene then a jump forward to the next day, two weeks, months, etc. While necessary to the story line, it jarred me out of the story several times though I became used to it towards the end.

What worked:

Michael. The author runs a fine line between his high intelligence and drive yet still keeping him a young teen. Michael’s worries and concerns are appropriate for his age and a shock to those who want to mold him. But Michael is not only book smart, he’s street smart, able to maneuver the bitter world of politics to carve out his place.

William. He’s adorable, what else can I say?

The sci fy stuff. Again, I don’t try and make sense of it all, but I didn’t need to. I didn’t have to have the hierarchy memorized, or understand how the ships and colonies functioned to get the feel for how things worked and to see clearly how much an honor and a curse was Michael’s uniqueness.

The ending. Don’t want to spoil it but it was perfect.

Some aspects bounced off me the wrong way but overall I liked the book and would recommend it for people who like a paranormal/sci fy style mixed with some YA elements.

I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: megdelaney on Dec. 17, 2013 :
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

I had read this book without reading the first book. I would recommend reading the first book before this one. Although this was a good read, with an interesting paranormal world, I think it would have enjoyed it much more if I had known more about the backdrop.

Understanding now that the main character in this book was a side character in the first story makes the lack of background of the other characters in this book makes more sense. I wish I had more information on the other characters in this book because what little there was they were still very interesting and had me wanting more.

I had never read anything from this author before, so I was happy to read a well written story about a new interesting paranormal world!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: sarah carr on Dec. 17, 2013 :
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cathedral of the Sky is book 1.5 of the Pact Arcanum series. If you are a fan of paranormal/urban fantasy then this series is a must. It has it all, shifters, vampires, physic ability and space travel. Mr. Ahsanuddin creates a world so intriguing and attention capturing; the series is hard to put down once started.

In this series, there are four races of people:

Nightwalkers - Vampires
Daywalkers - Vampires who have regained their souls
Sentinels - Protectors of humans who fight the nightwalkers. Each Sentinel is categorized by Earth, Wind, Fire or Air. Each category notates a particular power the Sentinel has.

The first book of the series should be read before reading this story. The world building in the first book is essential to know in order to fully understand what happens in this story. I do warn you, by reading the first book you will go into this story knowing the ending. It might put some people off from reading Cathedral of the Sky, but it shouldn’t. This book was a great read that does the main character justice.

This book is about Michael Danvers. He was a side character in book one but very deserving of a book of his own. Michael is a genius. While vacationing in Italy with his family at age 13 he witnesses a vampire attack with triggers his Sentinel abilities. Because his eyes are open now to the world around him, he decides to leave his family for their safety and join the Sentinel pack in the area.

Michael is young, scared and misses his family. He puts his faith in his new Sentinel family but he is betrayed by them. He leaves Italy and goes to North America to find a place in Sentinel society. From there he joins the Space Guild.

While at the academy, Michael is befriended by William Thompson. Academically, Michael excels and he rises quickly through the ranks, but socially and emotionally William is his rock. Michael’s experiences have caused him to not open up to people and show them his true feelings. His whole life, he is been conscious of what others expect from him and he tries to live up to those standards, until tragedy hits.

This event sets the course for Michael. He begins breaking away from what others expect and starts to live his life on his own terms. Then ending of this book was beautifully written and lives up to Michael’s powerful character.

I only had two issues with the book. The first was how the terrorist attack at the beginning of the first book was relived in this story. The entire event was cut from the first book and placed in this one. I understand Mr. Ahsanuddin was giving readers background information from the first book and also showing how those events affected Michael, but it could have been done differently. This portion could have been trimmed down a little or written in a way that wasn’t verbatim from the first.

The other issue is just me being greedy. In the first book Michael briefly talks about some of his experiences in space. I wish those experiences were played out in this book. I know this is just a short story in this series, but I wanted more.

Overall, a fantastic book that leaves you wanting more.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Lisa S. on Dec. 17, 2013 :
Read in December, 2013

Book 1.5 in the Pact Arcanum Series

Could possibly be read as stand-alone, but the reader would definitely enjoy much, much more if the first book is read before this one.

I received this book free in return for my honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation in return for this review, it is freely given.

The world building & characterization in this series so far is phenomenal. I feel like I can visualize everything that's happening. I really developed a bond with these characters. I finished this book yesterday & can't stop thinking about it. I really would love to read more in this series.

Michael Danvers is a child genius whose latent Sentinel Gift is triggered while he's on holiday in Italy with his parents. In his one act of teenage rebellion, he takes off without them while on a tour & witnesses a vampire feeding which is what triggers his Gift. Knowing this could possibly endanger their lives, he runs off & seeks guidance from an Italian clan of Sentinels.

The Clan uses him for their own purposes & feeling betrayed, he goes back to America where he learns about the Pact Arcanum. He's sponsored in the Spacer Guild where he tears through the Academy in record time. He also makes some very dear friends.

One of the friends is Will. An upperclassman who soon falls in love with Michael, but must wait for him since Michael is still only a young teenager. Michael soon graduates from the Academy, leaving Will to finish up with his training, and is in the process of starting his very promising career which would take him away from Will long enough for him to reach adulthood while leaving Will at his present age. Unfortunately, Will is struck down from a tragic illness before he can declare his feelings to Michael.

Michael learns of Will's love from their mutual friend and Will's former lover, Ariel after Will's funeral and it changes everything for Michael. It estranges him and Ariel for several years until Michael can come to terms with the fact that Will was waiting for him to grow up.

As Michael continues to rapidly rise through the ranks of the Spacer Guild, he never gives up hope that he might one day return home to see his parents again. Even giving up the assignment of a lifetime so that he would might someday be able to fulfill that wish.

*******Spoiler Alert *******

[Sadly, Michael never gets his wish, as he's asked to give up his life in order to save millions of others in a kamikaze mission. Michael never hesitates, even goes so far as to override the command to step down when the Archangel of Armageddon finds out he's only 15.

I so wanted there to be a different kind of ending. Even though logically I knew Michael wouldn't survive the suicide mission, I hoped that maybe there was a last chance he'd be able to eject out of the spaceship or something. But the ending was satisfactory, even if it wasn't what I truly wanted. (hide spoiler)]

This is tale of true sacrifice, of the tragedy of things not said and done. It made me cry. As I sit here writing this review, I'm tearing up again. It was just a really beautiful story.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Katy Sozaeva on Sep. 08, 2012 :
Ever since first reading the little bit of information about Michael Danvers in the earlier Pact Arcanum novel, I've been fascinated with his character and wanted to know more, which was why I was extremely psyched with Arshad Ahsanuddin started writing this novella. It gives us a deeper look at Michael's character, how he became a pilot and member of the Spacer Guild at such a young age, and generally provides a deeper look at the Spacer Guild in general. Fans of the Pact Arcanum, you don't want to miss this latest in this wonderful series! Highly recommended!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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