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The world was their creation until they sought to destroy it. Dutybound is the story of Terestria and its Virtues, heirs of nobility forced to face the Sins of their forefathers and bring their world from the brink of Darkness. Among them is Lucia Sanoon, High Maiden to the province of Moz and chosen of the Light Wings. The ancient relic, bestowed upon a long-forgotten civilization by the Light itself, was forged to harbor the Light's essence if ever Terestria's balance were threatened by the Darkness' desire to corrupt the Light's most-prized creation, Life. If successful and the long-standing covenant between the Light and its Protectors were ever to be broken, the Darkness would be free to roam Terestria and reclaim the land it had a hand in creating, bringing death and destruction to every corner of the world. But as long as there is Light, there is hope. With the help of the Light Wings and its power, Lucia must heed its call to assemble the Light's Virtues and lead them into battle against the very Sins that seek to destroy their world. But finding the four will not be easy, for much of the knowledge is lost and the understanding of one's own morality is the only key to unlocking the power each of them holds within. A story of faith and morality, Dutybound will lead you through a journey of self-discovery as our heroes face conflict from outside and within themselves. Duty, desire, envy, hope, hate, love, pride, and temperance all are challenged within this series in an epic tale that is sure to have you pondering your own true nature.
When the province of Moz is attacked by a shadowy, demonic force, 18-year-old Lucia Sanoon, high maiden of Moz and sole heir to the governorship, is forced to flee, accompanied by Sir Leocadio Feral, heir to the neighboring province of Pinea. Heeding the advice of a letter left behind by Lucia’s long-missing father, the duo seeks refuge with Leo’s father in Pinea, only to be displaced after another attack. In search of answers, they venture forth to Aldric, the land of scholars, only to learn that they have been caught up in an age-old conflict between darkness and light--and that this new generation must pay for the sins of its predecessors. To save the world, they must uncover the secret of the Light Wings, a powerful artifact passed into Lucia’s safekeeping which grants her amazing powers, at a cost.

Alvarez brings to this epic fantasy an ambitious, philosophical bent, a resonant clash between generations, and a colorful, highly visual aesthetic. That emphasis, though, comes at the expense of deeper worldbuilding and character exploration. As his characters visit interesting locales, Alvarez paints vivid pictures with an eye for detail but neglects the cultural and social details that invited readers to feel invested in a living, breathing setting.

The same can also be said for his characters, who wax poetic about good and evil, light and dark, but never quite feel like real people. Instead, Alvarez uses them to explore his philosophical concern, a spiritually charged struggle between sin and virtue. The juxtaposition of religious and human elements makes for an interesting thematic core but doesn’t quite carry the narrative, which tends to skip quiet moments in favor of action and high drama. A sudden time jump late in the story may even leave readers wondering if they have missed some crucial developments. Still, the premise has potential and the author’s use of color throughout is impressive.

Takeaway: This philosophical fantasy will appeal to readers seeking vivid clashes between light and dark.

Great for fans of: Brent Week’s Lightbringer series, L. E. Modesitt Jr.’s Recluce series.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B-