Schisms is Book I of the Red World trilogy by V.A. Jeffrey. It is an epic fantasy/scifi tale set upon the planet Chialis: the Red Eye of Heaven, or what we Earthmen refer to as Mars. And it is best described as a mixture of Frank Herbert’s Dune saga and the Bible with a touch of ancient Middle Easterner culture throw in for good measure.
This first installment of the tale introduces one to the land of Hybron and the splendid city of Jhis, where a mighty chieftain of the desert plains people rules as king over his more civilized subjects. Indeed, Khalit-Aisu is a barbarian in all but the most important way, for he has turned away from his ancient religion and has begun to worship the many gods of his civilized subjects. And this failure to continue to serve Airend-Ur, the true God of All, has caused considerable unrest, as the priesthood at the Temple of Airend-Ur begin to splinter into those willing to forego the laws of God in favor of Khalit’s earthly wishes and those who will not.
To complicate an already delicate situation, Khalit has grown tired of his devout wife and wishes to set her aside for another woman; one who might finally give him the male child he has always envisioned as heir for his hand-carved empire. But instead of sending for another desert girl from his own people, the king has decided for reasons of state to wed a foreigner. A girl whose family while powerful and rich are also allegedly the offspring of ancient demons come to consort with humankind. This fact plus Khalit’s growing refusal to follow the spiritual laws of Airend-Ur begins to sow seeds of distrust between him and his childhood teacher, Ilim; a priest who loves his king like a son but is growing more and more disillusioned with his pupil and his fellow priest, who bow down to their king’s unrighteousness.
The tale that ensues reads very much like a Biblical Dune. There are treacherous administrators, shadowy political machinations, priestly infighting, and an ancient prophecy regarding a Red King who will be born and return the world to its former paradise. All of this set within a post-apocalyptic setting, which - though not fully revealed - tantalizes in its perceived wondrous history. A good setting in which to develop an epic fantasy/scifi series.
All in all, I enjoyed this story. It was intriguing , but it was slow to read and plagued by far too many long paragraphs. However, I suppose that this might have been done intentionally by the authors, since the novel as a whole has an epic tone in the vein of the Old Testament of the Bible or the ancient Greek myths. Hopefully, the author will build off this solid start and flesh out the world while cutting down on the unnecessary (in my opinion, of course) wordiness of some parts of the narrative.
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank Netgalley for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.