First book in the “The Braided Path” trilogy.
This is the story of the ancient empire of Saramyr—an empire that rules over a land overwhelmed by evil. The evil comes from within the empire’s center: the Weavers, a sect of male magicians close to the throne, intent on killing any child born with magical powers. But now the Empress has given birth to just such a child and a revolution is brewing.
Here the fantasy empire ruling the land of Saramyr has an oriental flavour, a level of technology that allows rifles and bombs and a communications system relying on magic–the sorcery of the dreaded, masked Weavers.
By manipulating the magical Weave of the world, a kind of fantasy cyberspace, Weavers can not only send messages over any distance but manipulate minds, fight intangibly and kill. The use of the Weaving, and their masks, makes the weavers eccentric and mad and have revolting habits such as raping and killing small children. All other forms of magic talent are denounced as Aberrant and the talent-owners condemned to death.
Rebellion brews among the Empire’s people and powerful noble factions when it emerges that the Heir-Empress Lucia is Aberrant, with gentle powers of communication with birds and earth-spirits. Meanwhile another girl, Kaiku, is orphaned when her family is both poisoned by an unknown hand and attacked by “shin-shin” demons. Kaiku soon finds that she herself is dangerously Aberrant, apt to send out waves of uncontrollable fire.
Kaiku makes a quixotic journey with unusual companions, and, by use of the mask that is her sole inheritance, enters a protected place to discover the grim secret of what’s slowly poisoning the land. It is not, as the Weavers insist, the existence of Aberrants but rather the weavers themselves.
Kaiku and her friends join the Red Order, a sisterhood of trained Aberrants, in a desperate effort to save Lucia from the general bloodshed of the inevitable Imperial coup. Many characters fail to survive for the backlash expected in volume two.
Pretty enjoyable fare, and certainly one I intend to seek out the sequel(s) to