The Penitent: Part I by Keith Carreiro is a sprawling sci-fi fantasy novel. It also has a healthy dash of horror, war, and tragedy. Needless to say, it is a little bit intense but it is a satisfying and well-told story. It is about Pall Warren, an ostracized young man who does not know why he is doomed to live on the outskirts of life. Yet he makes peace with this and continues his difficult existence. Slowly, his background is revealed to us, and Pall finds meaning in his journey to find the truth. He pairs up with a mysterious archer, John Savage and the two form an uneasy but loyal partnership.
Pall lives a tough life and it was difficult to read about his daily pain and struggle, almost as terrible as his past. He has a lot of grit and moral strength, and manages to navigate life with his head held high. John is, as they say, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. I found his parts very entertaining as he was a droll and captivating character- probably my favorite. Towards the end, Evangel is also briefly mentioned- I’m very interested to know what part she plays in Pall’s life.
The story starts off slow and doesn’t shy away from laying out the atrocities and horror of Pall’s life. Some parts are gruesome, violent, and downright depressing but I think those parts were important in forming Pall. They may seem gratuitous, but as the story developed, I could see that this is what made Pall a consistent and strong character. The author brilliantly displays the psychology of people amidst war. The ruthlessness, and ultimately, pointlessness of political struggles seemed to be the root of evil to me.
The Penitent: Part I is an emotional rollercoaster of a story that looks at both sides of life. It shows how hope and despair can easily be a part of one’s fate when one has little control. Ultimately, it is about digging to find the truth and to have an unflinching moral code against one’s enemies. That’s what makes the characters and this story so likable. The nail-biting ending was superb and I nearly wanted to scream at the suspense. A thrilling beginning to a riveting epic fantasy series.
Pages: 293 | ASIN: B07W9F44LK
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The next novel in The Immortality Wars series continues . . . Her parents are viciously murdered by a band of killers. Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby in swaddling clothes, Evangel is only steps away from them. An old hermit, Matthew Greatworth, finds her the day after this tragedy unfolds.She is touched by a rare spiritual power and raised by Matthew in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. Evangel grows up in the quaint hermitage Matthew built years ago.In her 17th year, outlaws terrorize Matthew while she is away. The young girl reaches him just as his eyes are carved out of their sockets and placed on a stump before him.The miracles and struggles against those seeking to kill her, as well as those disbelieving the power of her presence, all come together in a battle of good versus evil. In a vision of clarity and prescience amidst her struggle for survival and meaning, she finds her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Evangel’s remarkable journey to save herself, her newfound friends and then those who believe in her, brings to the reader a hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.
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The Penitent: Part II follows Evangel who is struggling to cope with her abilities while evading those who seek to hurt her. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
I wanted to see if I could stir the writing cauldron some more and contribute a 21st century flavor to sci-fi/ fantasy storytelling with an added sprinkling of faith–based Christian themes, especially in terms of the heroes being on a spiritual adventure as well.
Could I gather together the sensibilities of these inspirational sources and could I create a brand new and seminal story for our time?
The inspiration for the second book of the Penitent comes from a variety of sources. One of them is my love of fantasy and science fiction, which partly influences the creation of The Immortality Wars series. The first and third books, deal directly with the young warrior Pall Warren and his quest for understanding what is happening to him and to those around him. I wanted to have him fall in love with someone who could match him, not only in terms of strength of character, but also provide him with a source of support for faith and belief in God. Evangel surrounds him with prayer for protection against those who try to destroy Pall and his world.
A second influence is my love for the stories and poems about the medieval ages regarding Great Britain and France. I wanted to see if I could write a 21st century story that has an epic sweep to it similar to the works of older writers like Sir Thomas Malory, Chrétien de Troyes, and modern writers represented by T. H. White, Stephen Lawhead, Parke Godwin and Marion-Zimmer Bradley.
I also love the storytelling of science fiction authors like Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card as well as those of fantasy authors, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guinn, which is the third wellspring of inspiration for Part II of the Penitent.
My fourth source of inspiration is from storytelling about the Bible that were created by writers and by the cinema. Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, written by General Lew Wallace (1880), and the 1959 movie; Lloyd C. Douglas’ (1942) The Robe, and the 1953 movie; and the work of the Scottish author George MacDonald, are examples of inspiration that fueled my hopes of writing something similar, yet unique for our contemporary age.
With these above influences, I wanted to see what could be created if I put together the voices of Tolkien, Lewis, MacDonald, Stephen King, Dean Kuntz and Lee Child.
Evangel is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I wanted to have a strong and compelling young woman as a major protagonist in the first trilogy. I thought she should share some of the attributes and personal history that Joan of Arc experienced in her life. I also wanted a complex individual with other characteristics and traits. As a boy, I was very much influenced by reading the poem “Evangeline”, which was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1847. This influence helped deepen Evangel’s personality as well as her spiritual understanding and perspective. She wants to live a quiet life with her adopted grandfather, Matthew, but swirling forces are around her and The Refuge where they live battling for supremacy of power. Like Heidi in Johanna Spyri’s (1881) novel with the same name, Evangel is an orphan and grows up in the wilderness. I hoped to create a woman whose innocence is deepened by the power of God. The core of this innocence will be tested by hell itself. Yet, she has the ability to keep her mental and moral balance. I wanted her to be wise as well, but in this part of her story, she’s growing into such wisdom. She becomes a major ally of one of the other main characters, Pall Warren, in the Penitent. Indeed, they fall in love from afar with one another.
I enjoyed the world you’ve created in your series. What were some themes you wanted to focus on while crafting your world?
It is difficult for me to answer your question as I don’t want to spoil the plot and overall background context of the series. I am hoping to write a trilogy of trilogies, or an ennealogy. It is partly based on the concept of a Russian doll, one in which there is a doll within a doll, within a doll. The three trilogies represent three different sets of realities stacked over one another. The first trilogy is the smallest one. The second, the Pilgrim, and the third trilogy, the Prophet, set up a thought experiment about what the nature of life will be like in the 26th century. The present time of the story is 2562, but despite hints through the Penitent, the characters and readers of the story are witnessing a tale seemingly out of the Middle Ages. However, all is not what it seems.
What will the role of science and technology play in our lives five hundred years from now? Will there still be believers in God? What tension will exist between faith, science and technology? Besides being a sci-fi, fantasy saga this series is also a spiritual adventure offering a glimpse of the future where heroes, demons, blessed and cursed battle over an elusively sought potion for everlasting life. For the majority of those alive in 2562, science offers a Jacob’s ladder to immortality. Faint echoes from religion barely register in the awareness of those living in this era.
“The end of suffering. The demise of death. Life unchained. Time conquered. The elixir of life found. The jewel of forever in the palm of life’s grasp…”
This is book two in your Immortality Wars series. What can readers expect in book three?
Book three is a return to Pall’s quest to meet again with John Savage after being separated from him in a dreadful battle that occurs at the beginning of book one against marauders and a demon named Ünger, who simply tears apart any human being it can find. Pall continues his quest not only to reconnect with John Savage but also to summon the strength and courage to continue his search for meaning. The role he must play by determining who he is forms an integral part in the destiny of everyone around him.
Pall’s journey is reached at the port city of Seascale where he soon discovers that the realm of West Fundlund is also imperiled and under attack by the renegade priest Kosem Mungadai, a thaumaturge of the 13th level in the occult arts.
Will Evangel’s prayer of protection still surround and preserve Pall from wickedness? Are courage, strength of arms and the blessings of love capable of enduring and overcoming the corrupting power of malign forces seeking the utter ruin of his world?
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The Penitent: Part II introduces readers to Evangel. Rescued by a hermit and raised to embrace her powers. Although she tries to keep her powers a secret, fate has other plans for her. As she struggles with understanding her powers while keeping them hidden, one vision she has will change her life and the lives of countless others.
This is book two in A. Keith Carreiro’s Immortality Wars epic fantasy series. While I picked up the series at book two I was no less intrigued by the compelling world and lured in by the fascinating characters. Evangel is a character that is well accustomed to loss and pain. She’s a character I could easily empathize with and root for. The slow development, and evolution of her character, was something that kept me turning pages. The story is colored with base tones of faith and religion and I appreciated the subtly of its presence balanced with the far reaching effects it had on the characters. Evangel’s perspective of the world is a bit naive, but I found that to be endearing. In light of the dangerous world in which she lives I found it to be a welcome contrast that is well portrayed by the author. Her faith and beliefs are challenged, but what protagonist isn’t challenged in some way in a good epic fantasy novel?
I recommend starting the series with book one if you can, but otherwise this book is still intriguing. Pall is an interesting character that I would love to learn more about, especially since his story line seems to be so closely connected to my favorite character Evangel. Their relationship is intriguing and I wanted to explore it further.
A. Keith Carreiro has created an intricate world for some enthralling characters to inhabit. Things are rarely what they seem and I enjoyed the air of mystery that seemed to color everything coupled with a relentless sense of adventure. With deep world building and multi-layered characters, fans of epic fantasy will have much to appreciate in The Penitent series. I can’t wait for part three.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MAZDG4S