The Gates of Golorath separate the lands of humanity from the realm of the Lethen’al.
Arielle is descended from the founder of the Areth’kon. She dreams of becoming a Mala’kar, a Bladeless Master, like her noble parents before her. An element of her past returns that may ruin her plans.
Angus has forsaken the teachings of the Magi that almost fatally failed him. He has chosen to train with his father’s people at the Gates, but he is not prepared for what’s to come.
Their fates intersect when their squads arrive at the Gates of Golorath to complete their final year of military training. Competing amongst themselves and the other cadets, they struggle for prominence and acceptance.
But, as Angus and Arielle are drawn closer and the tensions between their squads mount, those around them begin to fear that which was foretold long ago. Will they choose to rise as saviors, or fall as destroyers?
Beyond their realm, the enemy of their people, the shrulks, mass in the human lands. For now, the Lo’ademn, the demons imprisoned since The Fall, still slumber in their prisons. Will this unlikely band of misfits become the heroes both worlds need or aid in its annihilation?
Goodreads Link: The Gates of Golorath (Chaos of Souls #1)
Author: R. M. Garino
Genre: High fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars
So I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it are very compelling. There’s an intricate world and cosmology that obviously took a lot of time to develop. There are thrilling action scenes and amusing jokes. Some of the characters are well-developed, and the descriptions can be stunning. It raised a lot of questions for the next book.
But there’s also a lot of issues. It jumps right in with a lot of complicated terms and similar words. I had to reread the prologue a few times before I felt confident that I could remember the difference between the Lethen’al (basically elves) and the Lo’ademn (basically demons). At the end of the last chapter, I found a glossary. It would have helped if this were linked from the table of contents so I could refer to it as I read. Also, this book could really use a good proofreader. So many errors in punctuation, mistaken words, and about halfway through, Satyagraha* changed to Satyagarha. And I am still confused by how some of the complicated world works. Does the Gate separate them from the human world, the Sur (kind of like Hell), or both?
*Also, why did they use the word Satyagraha? The rest of the Lethen’al’s language didn’t seem to resemble Sanskrit, and there was no connection to contemporary Earth, so they hadn’t heard of Gandhi.
Anyway, the main part of the book deals with military and magical training, both things I enjoy. It was interesting to see all the different stages that they went through and how they could find creative solutions. The biggest challenge reminded me of the Hunger Games a little, how they worked together so more than one group could win. The book could have ended with that victory. After that, things felt rushed to get to the next big event and skimmed over things that could have been interesting, like the wolves. Also, the villain’s appearance after being dreaded for so long was anticlimactic.
LGBTQ characters: this book was recommended on a list for LGBT characters. I think there might be a F/F pairing, but it was all subtext. Almost no romantic relationships were mentioned except for the main (straight) couple. I wouldn’t have even guessed anyone was gay if I wasn’t explicitly looking for it based on the rec.
In the end, this is a decent high fantasy with detailed world building. Might be enjoyed by fans of Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, and Shannara. I don’t know if I’ll continue reading the series.
Final note: I got this book for free from Kindle Unlimited. You can find other SPFBO entries in KU. If you don’t have a KU subscription, there might be a sale on SPFBO books soon.