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Oswald Palle

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Publish)

It takes a village to raise a child.

In a land of brutal conquests, twisted histories and forbidden magic, the Lion tribe is in crisis. The chief has three heirs. The warrior, the worker, and the accursed. For one to ascend the lionchair, the others must be broken.

It takes the demons to make a man.

Sakhan fights captivity, shamans, and shapeshifters – all while caring for an ailing mother and vowing to win a throne he does not want. Betrayed, hunted and alone, Haikachi dreams of revenge as he puts his trust in the loyalty of sworn enemies. His destiny is a chief – if his allies do not kill him first. Helpless husband to a murdered wife, Neneh is free of expectations. With nothing else to lose, he is at an advantage – but nothing is a double-edged blade.

Destiny is a choice.

As folklores come alive and dark clouds gather, amid tragedy and victory, honor and betrayal, everyone must gamble for that most elusive of places – survival.

Oswald’s well-crafted debut creates a visceral experience of tribal warfare, betrayal, and courage set in a brutal fantasy world of shamans and horse warriors. Chief Kheng of the Lion tribe of Bamundia keeps an iron grip on his subjects and his three unruly sons. Haikachi, the eldest and heir, is a brilliant general who fights off the northern raiders. Cruel and selfish, seventeen-year-old middle son Neneh has his eye on the throne and isn’t above blackmail to get it. At fifteen, Sakhan, son of the chief’s second wife of the Edor tribe, has little chance to be chief because “The tribesmen already saw him as half a Lion.” After Sakhan’s girlfriend Adah is reportedly killed by the Bull tribe of Abun, Kheng declares war. But Sakhan suspects Neneh killed her because of an insult—and to create a campaign through which he can display his prowess for war.

Oswald weaves a rich, immersive world of distrust between tribes, magical rituals, and exotic animals. Fierce battle scenes show archery from horseback, war elephants, wildebeests, and fireballs. Jealousy and rivalry between the three brothers lead to lies and betrayal—“Blood is thicker than water, and bad blood is even more so.” As the complex story progresses, Chief Sheeru of the Abun searches for a magical talisman that will protect his people, last seen in Adah’s possession. And Kheng’s shaman Charchar fears a disastrous curse after the mystical ancestral sword, a symbol of peace between the tribes, goes missing.

Fantasy fans will eagerly follow along with the confident, proud, and diverse characters who display honor and courage, but whose flaws allow for betrayal and mistrust. The jungle location provides a refreshing setting, which helps make up for an overabundance of names and people to track—and a dearth of compelling female characters. Nevertheless, fans will like the intricate plot, intrigue, and sword battles of this well-written story.

Takeaway: Lovers of fantasy adventures will be immersed in this epic story with magic and fast-paced action set in an exotic world.

Great for fans of: Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy, Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series.

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