Instrument of Fate

The Seven Gods of Mortal-kind,
the Humans that they lead and blind;
The Fala, the Sa, Ilsi and Kir,
The Lady’s people, races fair.
Just as fair, their forms more free,
Swim the People of the Sea.
Demons made from darkest dreams
Guard the Night King as he schemes.
Last and least, the angry Ghil
Lurk and envy, stalk and kill
But there are more who linger here
Than Demons dark and gods to fear;
More than elves and more than men-
Aertha’s kind are one and ten.

-“The Naming of the Kinds”, from the Book of The Lady

The excerpt above is from Christie Golden’s original fantasy novel Instrument of Fate, and in a way, it provides a nice foreshadowing of the story. This is a book that follows a female bard and her quest to deliver a musical instrument to the Queen-Mother of Byrn. War is on the verge of breaking out between men and elves, and this one little adventure is vital to the outcome. However this is not a story about the brewing war, but a personal story about the bard. She must persevere against the odds, and mostly on her own. It’s a story of great emotion, and great characters. Quite simply, it’s one of Golden’s best.

In this world of fantasy there are a few basic races: elves, humans, and the Ghil. The evles basically stay to themselves, and during this period of time, they are divided. Some of the elves despise human kind and wish to renew the old wars against them. Other elves have learned to forgive and even like the humans and have no wish to renew the war. Some care little and have no opinion. Like traditional elves, they have pointy ears, are small in stature, and live a long time. They are also emotionally reserved. Humans on the other hand are creatures of emotion and are portrayed as humans are always portrayed. The Ghil are interesting in that they are ratmen who make a living off slavery. Human kind has waged war to try and annihilate the Ghil since they are the primary targets of their slaving operations.

Like most fantasy stories, there are swords and magic. Christie created her magic system based on hand, heart, head, and spirit magic. There is also a pantheon of gods. Yet all of these things are merely addressed in passing and aren’t the focal points of the story. The real focus is the characters: Gillien Songespynner, Daric Rhan, and Va’kul. Gillien is the female bard whose tasked with delivering a magical instrument to Ariel, the elven Queen-mother of Byrn. Daric Rhan is an ex-military officer whose battling with alcoholism and the demons of his past. Va’kul is a Changer and the villain of the story.

When a novel focuses on the characters, it’s imperative that they’re compelling to the reader. Daric has a lot of flaws which makes him interesting. He has a desire to fight off the bottle, but his past makes it difficult for him to go through with it. He’s wary of people because he’s seen the evil in the world. Yet at heart, he’s a good person, and he knows there are still good people out there in the world. His internal battles spill out into external battles, and as a supporting character, his success and failure keeps the reader hoping for a triumph. Gillien, on the other hand, is the main character and her internal battles are mostly in dealing with her current plight. Things do not go well for her but she tries to carry on. She’s a survivor. Much of her story is an exploration of her limitations. How much can she take before she breaks? Va’kul is the one who tests her.

Every story needs its villain and Va’kul plays the part. Va’kul is a Changer capable of taking any form. The part I loved most about him was how Christie took the time to write a chapter that shows the world from his people’s perspective. The creatures go from being demons, to just another species with ambitions and desires trying to survive. While Va’kul isn’t the only villain in the story, he is the most prominent. When combined with all the others, the heroes have plenty to keep them busy.

In the end, Instrument of Fate is a fine journey through the realms of fantasy and the heart of the human soul. It is an adventure that plumbs the depths of emotion. The story goes from highs to lows, from pain, death, despair, to love, courage, loyalty, and triumph. Throughout the novel, Golden shows her skills as a wonderful storyteller and writer.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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  1. […] If you’re looking for a good book to read while you wait for the next Star Wars novel to come out, I suggest Instrument of Fate. It’s written by Christie Golden who will be writing the upcoming Jaina Solo trilogy Sword of the Jedi. It’s also a fantasy story with deep characters and personal exploration. Furthermore, this is an original story by Christie Golden. For those wondering what Christie might be capable of when set loose on her own and writing a female protagonist, Instrument of Fate will give you the answer. Click here to read the full review. […]

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