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You have heard the story before - of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.
But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?
What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?
Among the Academy's warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents' killers.
Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy's masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil.
Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . .
Game designer Call inverts fantasy tropes in this sprawling, slow-moving debut, the first in the Silent Gods series. At the Academy of Chaenbalu, magic is feared and tightly controlled. Academy acolyte Ainnevog "Annev" de Breth was born with no left hand, which is widely considered to mark him as a son of the dark god Keos. Ancient Priest Sodar saved Annev from being killed as a baby and has helped him to conceal his difference during his childhood at the academy. As Annev prepares for the Test of Judgment, which will determine his ability to become a master avatar, or warrior thief, tasked with stealing magical artifacts to place them under the Academy's protection, he contends with threats from his fellow students; his attraction to the headmaster's daughter, priestess Myjun; and his dark magical impulses. Call's worldbuilding is impressive, but often bogs down in minutiae. A late-stage reveal and violent climax nicely set up book two, but the dense storytelling and plodding beginning will lose impatient readers before they get there.