When someone has an innate ability to oppose Evil, they become a target. Evil will do whatever they can to suppress or destroy such people. The danger for Evil, though, is that the great Heroes are often refined by this, strengthened by it. What Evil tries to destroy, only gets stronger.
This is the path the reluctant heroes are faced with in Morgan L. Busse‘s absorbing new novel, Son of Truth, the sequel to Daughter of Light. Last time, we followed the reluctant outcast, Rowen Mar, as she finally chose who she was meant to be, even if she wasn’t entirely sure what would come with it. An Eldaran imbued with gifts of healing and Truthsaying, these great powers often take a toll on their user.
Now she is on the run because people fear her. This volume also sees the development of other characters from the first book, as they discover and come to terms with what they are meant to be. There’s a great interweaving of their paths here, even a bit of a love story. One of these people is, if you haven’t guessed from the title, a Guardian (another type of Eldaran), who is called to stand against Evil. Readers are left with the distinct feeling something big is looming just off stage. Where as the first novel was set against the backdrop against a war between men, the threat of the Shadonae is growing as is the strength of those who will ultimately oppose them. In a way, the trials of the characters remind of the breaking of the fellowship in Lord of the Rings. Not that all of these people were together initially, but they find themselves on differing paths that test their beliefs and resolve before their journeys converge.
Very much a character-driven story, Morgan keeps the adventure flowing forward with plenty of surprises and conflict. As good as the first volume was, she has truly found her rhythm here in a story that propels the reader to the next page. Some aspects of the Follower of the Word are a bit reminiscent of Terry’ Brooks Word and the Void series (which he later connected to his Shannara books), but Brooks never really developed what the Word was and what that meant. Morgan isn’t afraid to make this integral to her book, and the religious allusions are obvious, but in the way C.S. Lewis approached his fantasy. Allowing his beliefs to be the foundation of his work, not to overwhelm it. I only say this because all authors imbue their books with their beliefs, but I think the path Lewis or Morgan has taken is more realistic. Sure, there are those who like their books to be more in their face about everything or are mad when that’s what they discover while reading. Writers can’t, and shouldn’t try to, make everyone happy.
Most people will be more than happy with Morgan’s newest book. As always, in a series like this, it is always best to start with the first book. I don’t know how many books in this sequence she has planned, but I do know one thing. In a time where I have lost interest in many other books and their sequels, this is one that I can’t wait to see what happens next.