Empire of the Saviours by AJ Dalton

a review by Lauren Schroder

The publisher says:

“In the Empire of the Saviours the People are forced to live in fortified towns. Their walls are guarded by an army of Heroes, whose task is to keep marauding pagans out as much as it is to keep the People inside. Several times a year, living Saints visit the towns to exact the Saviours’ tithe from all those coming of age – a tithe often paid in blood.

“When a young boy, Jillan, unleashes pagan magicks in an accident, his whole town turns against him. He goes on the run, but what hope can there be when the Saviours and the entire Empire decide he must be caught?

“Jillan is initially hunted by just the soldiers of the Saint of his region, but others soon begin to hear of his increasing power and seek to use him for their own ends. Some want Jillan to join the fight against the Empire, others wish to steal his power for themselves and others still want Jillan to lead them to the Geas, the source of all life and power in the world. There are very few Jillan can trust, except for a ragtag group of outcasts.

“His parents threatened, his life in tatters, his beliefs shaken to the core, Jillan must decide which side he is on, and whether to fight or run. . .”

This novel is not to my taste. It is set in a cultish/religiously abusive world where individuals are Drawn by the Saints, a strange practice, which often results in their death. The People’s minds are brainwashed into believing that this is protecting them from the Chaos of the outside world. The People are taught that every thought they have is subject to the Taint, an evil self-obsessed agent of the Chaos and therefore must be continually purged from them.

The author has created the world well and does describe the characters in depth however I found the plot predictable and unsatisfactory. It is the first book in a series and therefore does not intend to resolve the books numerous plot issues, however, I felt the novel is incomplete and am not motivated to read the other books in the series. The book also appears to have links to a distorted form of Christianity.

This novel is part of the fantasy genre and does have magic in it, which is a staple of this genre, but for me misses the essential enjoyment this genre characteristically has. I found something unnerving about this novel and an unpalatable aftertaste.