"It frightens me, knowing the One has called up two such strong individuals. It means that there are troubled times in our future, and you must prepare yourselves."
The Temple at Illian is the crown jewel of life in the Northern Territory. There, pledges are paired with feli, the giant sacred cats of the One god, and are instructed to serve the One's four capricious deities. Yet Sulis, a young woman from the Southern Desert, has a different perspective—one that just might be considered heresy, but that is catching on rather quickly …
Sulis's twin, Kadar, meanwhile, is part of a different sort of revolution. When Kadar falls in love with a woman from a Forsaken caste, he finds he's willing to risk anything to get these people to freedom. But with Sulis drawing a dangerous level of attention from the deities, and war about to break out on two fronts, change may not come as easily as either twin had hoped.
An astonishing debut, Kelley Grant's Desert Rising brings to life a powerful new epic fantasy tale of determination and self-discovery.
Squabbling deities and cultural clashes form the heart of this entertaining and original debut secondary-world fantasy, the first in a promising new series. Sulis, born into a powerful desert clan of textile merchants, is determined to follow in her murdered mother's footsteps and join the Temple, dedicating her life to the One. Drawn by a genuine calling, Sulis becomes a pledge at the great Temple in Illian, the crossroads city where desert nomads trade with less footloose northerners. The Temple suffers from its own twisted internal politics, and it exerts considerable control over trade in a caste-based society where undesirables are "Forsaken" and treated as chattel. As religious factions jockey for power, Sulis's self-confidence and determination, and her willingness to ask uncomfortable questions, make her a leader of her fellow pledges and a dangerous threat to the established powers. Grant draws readers into her unusual setting with lively, well-rounded characters and a satisfyingly twisty plot. Thoughtful worldbuilding adds color and believability. Readers searching for a strong female protagonist and dangerous intrigue in a refreshing fantasy world will enjoy this impressive series opener.