“The Fifth Vertex” was published in 2014 and was written by Kevin Hoffman (http://www.kshmusings.com). While Mr. Hoffman has published several technical books, this is his first fiction book, and is the first of the “Sigilord Chronicles” series.
I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence. This Young Adult Fantasy novel is set in another world. Most of the technology is medieval, but there are hints that in a distant past civilization was more advanced.
Urus Noellor, is a young man just at the end of his military training. He is capable, but being deaf he is unable to pass the stringent tests required to graduate. He is branded as one of the ‘culled’, marking him as an outcast. Out of no where, his city of Kest is besieged by four armies.
Goodwyn Stom is Urus’ best friend and is also in warrior training. Unlike, Urus, he passes his tests with flying colors. When the city is besieged, Goodwyn finds Urus and together they search the dark tunnels beneath the castle for Murin. Murin is an odd stranger they had just met, but one that seems to exert unusual powers over those around him.
Upon finding Murin, he enlists Urus and Goodwyn to help him find and protect a vertex hidden deeper under the castle. Murin explains that the Blood Mages are behind the armies threatening Kest. They wield strong magical powers that require blood. The Blood Mages have to be stopped before the five vertexes are destroyed. If the vertexes are destroyed, then the Blood Mages will be set loose upon many different universes.
Cailix is a young woman who has grown up as an orphan. Finally settled in as the ward of a Monastery, her world is torn apart when a Blood Mage shows up. He forces the monks to reveal where a map of the vertex locations is, then, taking Cailix with him, leaves only corpses behind. The Blood Mage senses something in her and begins to tutor Cailix in magic. She plays along, but only long enough to escape.
Soon, Urus, Goodwyn, and Cailix find themselves together. Not only are they bound to each other through their common hatred of the Blood Mages, but they find that they each have abilities that they had never dreamed of.
I like that this fantasy does not have Elves and Dwarfs for a change. The plot is not very unique – evil rises, forces of good gather together to oppose it, the ‘good heroes’ suddenly gain magical powers and beat down evil. There is a thread of GLBT romance that appears in the story, though it is not a significant part. I liked the Briene, who are are a race of short statured builders, who spend most of their time beneath the ground. They bring a Steampunk like source of gadgets to the story. They made me think of the old TV series Fraggle Rock for some reason. I did enjoy the 7.5 hours I spent reading this story and give this novel a 4 out of 5.
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