Tuesday 3 March 2020

#BookReview — Oraiáphon: A Novella of The Empire by Marian L Thorpe #HistoricalFantasy @marianlthorpe

A Novella of The Empire
By Marian L Thorpe

Can a musician heal, when a physician cannot? All scáeli’en know the tale of Oraiáphon: how his music tamed the wildest beasts and charmed the darkest god. Only a fable—until song becomes Sorley’s last supplication to bring Cillian back from certain death, for Lena, for their child, and for the country that so desperately needs him.

"Courage comes in many forms, Sorley, and only men blinded by prejudice and thoughtlessness think otherwise."

Lord Sorley had dreamed of becoming a scáeli — a travelling musician, a historian, the holders and disseminators of deeds and stories. Instead, he had become a toscaire, an envoy for Linrathe. But his hopes, his dreams no longer matter, for the man he has loved for years is hovering in that shadowy world between life and death. 

The doctor has told both Lord Sorley and Lena that Cillian, Major of the Empire and partner to Lena, will die and that they should prepare themselves. But neither of them can. Cillian means so much to both of them. They know his life is in the gods' hands, but they will not give up on him, not while he still breathes.

But, maybe, if Sorley plays for him, he might just get through to Cillian's fevered mind that there is something worth fighting for – worth living for. The doctor may well be losing hope, but Sorely will not. Not yet. Not until that last breath leaves Cillian's body.

From the desperation and sorrow that comes when a loved one is dying to the celebration of a child's birth. Oraiáphon by award-winning author, Marian L Thorpe is the exciting new instalment in the Empire's Legacy series.

I absolutely loved every minute of Thorpe's Empire's Legacy series, and I was very excited when I learnt that Thorpe had written a novella about Lord Sorley. Within moments of reading, I felt myself being transported back into the world that I had loved so much — it was as if I had never left. And it was also great to be back amongst friends, to once again travel with the fantastic characters that Thorpe depicts with such skill and diligence. Thorpe's crystalline prose washed over me as I lost myself in the narrative. The fantasy world that Thorpe has created is ambitious, but it is also incredibly vivid and real in the telling. This is a world where a reader can lose themselves in and time no longer seems to matter. All that matters is the story. All that matters are these characters. Thorpe tells this story with an impressive sweep and brilliance, which makes Oraiáphon next to impossible to put down.

Lord Sorley was a character that always intrigued me, and I was really looking forward to reading this book from his perspective. Sorley is an incredibly tortured soul, and he hides a shameful secret, one that he has hidden all of his life. Sorley comes from a kingdom where the sexual attraction between members of the same sex is not tolerated. But here, in the Kingdom of the Western Empire, it is a normal part of everyday life. Sorley struggles with this new found freedom. He still can't quite believe that his attraction to the same sex is not forbidden, it is not looked down upon, and no one judges you for your choices. As long as it is consensual then there is nothing to fear. In this kingdom, you are free to love as you will — what a contrast to the nation Sorley came from. It is no wonder that at times, Sorley feels untethered and somewhat dislocated.

Lord Sorley's relationship with Cillian is heartbreakingly tragic, as unrequited love so often is. Sorley is so in love with Cillian. He would do anything for Cillian, absolutely anything. Sorley knows nothing can come of their relationship, and he has a loving partner of his own. Druisius is incredibly understanding of Sorley's feelings, and Duisius is such a caring and wonderful man that often Sorley feels terribly conflicted. He knows that the love he feels for Cillian is the love he should feel for Druisius, but what the mind understands and the heart demands so often conflict. Cillian is in a loving relationship with Lena, and they are expecting a child together. There is no room for Sorley in their relationship other than that of a trusted friend.

Although this book is told from Sorley's point of view, we are reunited with some of the characters that made the Empire's Legacy saga so enthralling. Once again, I felt drawn to Cillian. Cillian is an honourable man who has a sharp wit and a keen intelligence. He is also extraordinarily compassionate and to witness him fighting for his life was an emotional experience. I, along with Sorley and Lena, hoped for a miracle. 

Oraiáphon is not a novella that stands alone. You do need to read the other three books in the series first:

Book 1: Empire's Daughter
Book 2: Empire's Hostage
Book 3: Empire's Exile 

Empire's Legacy is a series that demands your attention from start to finish. It is as brilliant as it is mesmerising. Oraiáphon is a very welcomed addition to the saga.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

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Marian L Thorpe

Not content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. As well as writing and editing professionally, Marian oversees Arboretum Press, a small publishing imprint run as a collective. Marian is currently writing Empire’s Reckoning, the next book in her series.

Connect with Marian: Website • Twitter • Goodreads.  

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx