What determines the value of a soul?
Despite the heroics of young Reimar, his farmhold’s crops are burned in a savage raid with winter fast approaching. Desperate, the elders petition for help from the church to provide them enough food to survive. They find their local parish flooded with pleas from many other villages and farmholds in similar need and aid is short.
Brother Finn, a monk sentenced to exile on pain of death, is stranded. A viking attack damaged the ship taking him to his appointed sanctuary, leaving him trapped under the authority of the overwhelmed priest. Caring nothing for consequences Brother Finn might suffer, the priest orders him to aid in the distribution of alms and sends him to Reimar’s farmhold to gauge what can be done. Discovering the farmhold’s need is too great for the church to provide all the alms needed, Brother Finn brokers a trade: seven children to be given to the church for the food needed to survive the winter.
Having created the deal, Brother Finn is forced to finish what was started. He must escort Reimar and the other six children to Saint Martin’s Academy for training. They must cross the rugged land and lakes of Akiniwazi by train and ship. A gauntlet of dangers filled hostile savages, vikings, killer storms and demons. Can Brother Finn finish his original journey into exile before the snow comes? Will Reimar and the children survive their journey to a better life?
Book 1 of the Akiniwazisaga series.
Brother Finn has one final mission before his sentence is carried out: barter food for children and deliver the children to the Church. His task might have been so simple, if not for the demons. M. D. Boncher’s fantasy novel Akiniwazisaga: A Light Rises in a Dark World is seasoned with a pinch of alternate history and a dash of horror. In a world where Vikings colonized North America and this land is haunted by malevolent spirits, generations live and die in an endless struggle to hold the country. A Christian framework turns battles with unearthly creatures into spiritual warfare. Religion is elemental to the story, from the Gospel to demonic mischief to the old divisions of Christendom. This narrative sometimes feels detached, and the villainy of two characters strains realism. All the same, Akiniwazisaga is a fascinating blend of history, religion, and sinister folklore.
Best for: Fans of dark fantasy and spiritual warfare novels.
Discern: Several battles, multiple characters die gruesome deaths, harm to children, grisly imagery; and some readers may be troubled by negative treatments of Native Americans and Catholic theology.