I know everyone is busy and the world is falling apart, but could we get more Ilona book reviews for our self imposed isolation. I could use some escapism right now.Sean
This is going to be an off-brand recommendation. Usually, we try to recommend books that will appeal to people who read us. I haven’t read any of those lately. Gordon is reading an early Piers Anthony. The title is KIAI! (Jason Striker,) which is, according to him, a “martial arts men’s adventure. If they wrote a book to go along with Big Jim action figures from the 70’s, this would be that book.” Make of that what you will. He says the martial arts are very well written and there are ninjas at the end.
I am also reading a martial arts book, but mine is more fantasy. I am on book 3 of this series, which for me is nothing short of a miracle.
Sacred artists follow a thousand Paths to power, using their souls to control the forces of the natural world.
Lindon is Unsouled, forbidden to learn the sacred arts of his clan.
When faced with a looming fate he cannot ignore, he must rise beyond anything he’s ever known…and forge his own Path.
This is a terrible synopsis, so let me explain this a little bit. It’s a fantasy world, slightly reminiscent of Ancient China in that everyone is a martial artist and they wear robes. The similarities end there.
Our hero, Lindon, lives in a Sacred Valley, an idyllic green valley sheltered by tall mountains. Everything in the Sacred Valley revolves around madra. Madra is a magical force that permeates the world. Each living being has it and every aspect of the world produces it. There is fire madra, water madra, earth madra. Even sunlight generates madra.
Madra can be absorbed. Martial artists cultivate it by pulling it into their core and refining in, using it to push their bodies beyond human limits. Madra enables them to do incredible things. It can give them enhanced sight and indestructible bodies. It allows them to hurl weapons of pure magic and animate constructs. Plants that absorb madra for a long time bear magical spirit fruit and beasts who are exposed to it gain powers, intelligence, and become sacred.
As the martial artist become more proficient in their handling of madra, they begin climbing up the ranks of cultivation. First comes Wood, when you are nothing. Then Copper, which gives you enhanced senses, then Iron which reshapes you body, then Jade, which gives you foundation, then legendary Gold which comes with devastating power. In the Sacred Valley, everyone hopes to attain the rank of Jade.
The more Iron fighters and Jade martial artists a clan has, the stronger it is. That’s why early on, the clans test their children. Each of them dips their hand into a bowl of pure madra and it shows their predestined path. They could become Strikers, Enforcers, Forgers, or Rulers. Each specialization comes with its own unique set of powers.
Lindon is tested. He is a dud. He has magic, he feels madra, but when he dips his hand in to the bowl, nothing happens.
This is a catastrophic development. He is a source of shame to his family and his clan. An abomination, who must be shunned. Nobody will train him. He grows up learning ways to survive in a clan where a child half his age can murder him at will and nobody would bat an eye. He pushes himself, desperately trying to claw his way to Copper and failing.
Then the world ends and everything changes.
This is competence porn of the highest level. Lindon starts at less than zero. He is actually in the negative and he climbs out of that hole, slowly, but surely, at great personal cost. The world is very interesting, but Lindon himself is the main draw.
When beginning writers ask us about characterization, we usually try to explain that the character must be a product of their environment. Lindon is very much a product of his upbringing. He was weak and at the mercy of everyone, so to survive he develops an entirely different set of skills than his peers. He is forced to use his mind to keep on breathing, so he is smart. If he can cheat to win, he will. If he sees an opportunity to trick his opponent, he will take it. Despite being shunned, he is kind and compassionate, but most of all he is hungry to learn. He is starved for knowledge and when he finally finds a teacher, he excels in unexpected ways.
The book has a merest hint of romance. He meets this badass girl, Yerin, who is terrifying, and he travels out of the valley. Most of it is about different types of madra and how to use them and different martial arts. As I said, I’m on book three and I love it. But it’s different from our work in tone, so it may not appeal to you. As always, try the sample first.
Buy links: Amazon KU.
Will Wight’s website: https://www.willwight.com/