A war veteran's family is taken, and his world is in the tightening grip of a hostile alien race. He must bond with phantoms of the dead to seek the truth and save the world from meeting the same fate before the last of his sanity slips away.
I will be the shield for those who have fallen.
Cade Elegy's mind is tearing itself apart, crowded with the phantoms of the dead, and he must carry the burdens they could not.
This bond lends him their experience and allows him to bend the laws of the physical world — a power he desperately needs if he is to discover the truth of what happened to his missing family.
The trail has gone cold, but he is given one last chance when he is recruited by a princess to solve a murder. They soon uncover proof that their war with the Wraiths, a hostile alien race dominating their planet, never really ended.
Together with the princess, an overzealous archaeologist, and an ancient computer intelligence, Cade must stop the Wraiths before they annihilate the last remaining cities of Chalice and before the phantoms he bears destroy what's left of his mind.
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What do you do when you’ve lost everything you had, even the stars, but you haven’t lost the burden you carry: the weight of the dead?
Cade Elegy is a Bearer of Phantoms; meaning he both helps the dead, called phantoms, find their way to the next level of existence, and uses them to manifest special powers. He and others who are Code-trained can “encode,” that is, become other substances, such as diamond, steel, tungsten, or wood. It also means he is haunted by the Songs of those who have passed but haven’t left yet. He’s haunted even more by the loss of his family, and the war he fought in against the Wraiths, an alien species that has invaded Chalice. An uneasy truce has been in existence, but now people are disappearing and former soldiers trained in Coda are joining the Wraith as dangerous, angry Acolytes.
Determined to save himself from his nightmares, to hold onto his sanity, and honor the phantoms he carries with him, Cade sets out to find the truth and stop what’s happening. With him are Ashlyn Winshire, a rebellious princess determined to find her own truths; Elon Winshire, her brother, who has secrets of his own; Jace Exile, an archeologist with other talents; and Eos, a sentient machine existing within an ancient artifact. More help comes from the most unexpected sources, and they will need it as they set out to stop the Wraith from destroying Chalice further.
Unique and highly imaginative, this is a fresh take on science fiction, steampunk, dystopian and fantasy novels, all rolled into one wild, dangerous, exquisitely-realized worldpopulated with relics left behind by the Ancients that the current populace uses without understanding. Even at over 400 pages, there’s not a wasted word to be found; the narrative never lags into a dull moment. The characters, each fully realized with their own secrets, agendas, and needs, race from one danger to another, willing to sacrifice everything to either save or avenge others. It’s a beautiful ode to having a sense of duty, self-sacrifice, and a code of honor.
The first in the Phantom Pact series, the ending feels very satisfying in that the story contained within could stand all on its own. At the same time, it lays out the possibility for the next challenging adventure, with mysteries still to be unraveled. Highly recommended, and I can’t wait for Book 2.
Cade Elegy, a former soldier and Protector of the realm, is haunted by the phantoms of his dead children and wife. Well, more than that, he’s bonded to them, at least his children. Cade is a Bearer, a sort of warrior monk, trained in the art of using the spirits of the dead to encode, or bond his body with various elements, turning their strengths into his own. Too bad the whole process takes its toll out on him, and the only thing that can help him keep his sanity is a dwindling supply of a drug called Nocturne that’s just as likely to take his life as it is to save it.
Princess Ashlyn feels like an outcast in her own home, her father, the king, and brother, the prince, are absolute strangers to her, and the only person she’s ever trusted, her uncle Roland, has been killed. Who can she trust to make sure her uncle’s final mission is seen through and his death is avenged? The only person she can think of is Cade Elegy, Protector of the realm.
The two of them must work through their personal issues to figure out that the war that began many years ago with the alien race, the Wraiths, has never really ended. Unsure of who to trust, what’s even real, or where to turn, they have to rely on each other to get through all of this inact.
Bearer’s Burden wasn’t at all what I expected it to be upon first reading the synopsis, and once I got started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I’m highly looking forward to the next installment of this series. Well-written, with amazing imagery, I can almost feel as if I’m in the story myself.