“What was there in life, if not an endless wrestling against an unconquerable foe?”
Freedom doesn’t bring the peace the nation of Maraiah hoped for.
Giants, soldiers, and nomads fill the promised homeland—and they’ll do anything to hold onto power.
Thrown into an unfamiliar landscape and constant danger, Maraiah struggles to maintain her identity.
It’s a time of faith. Aia raises up Stewards to stand between His people and death. He works great miracles through them, reshaping the very ground of the promised land.
It’s a time of disappointment. Home looks nothing like Maraiah had dreamed. Generations drag on, and still violence, confusion, and doubt abound.
Will a Steward ever truly establish peace?
These seven short stories take place between Child of the Kaites and The Steward’s Apprentice, providing snapshots of key figures whose struggles with pride, trust, courage, and identity shape Maraiah’s future.
Rating: 5 stars
This book was beautiful. I loved getting to see snapshots of Maraian culture, as well as the other cultures around Maraiah, through the years. Each was vivid and fascinating, and together they communicated a well-developed world with interesting relationships among cultures. I also loved the focus on family (and other relationships, as well, but family in particular) across all of the stories, and how different characters showed their love for family in different ways.
Catam’s perspective was not the tone I was expecting to jump directly into, but it wasn’t a bad thing. It was really interesting to see the vastly different culture of Aimar, compared to Maraiah, from the perspective of a character who finds it normal. Wangler does an excellent job of showing the Aimarine culture’s (significant) flaws through her writing and through the reactions of the Maraian characters without compromising Catam’s voice. And the family relationships that are a staple throughout this collection start here in the very beginning, giving the Aimarine characters a bit of relatability and a redemption of sorts in the reader’s eyes, making this story enjoyable to read despite the flawed culture it’s placed in.
The Temple Builders
FAMILY. I cannot stress this enough: Wangler’s portrayal of family is both beautiful and spot-on. Tiran’s relationship with Nihal’s family hooked me from the very start, and it was such a joy to read. This particular story also starts off in a beautiful city, which Wangler’s vivid writing brings to life wonderfully. The minor characters and the little worldbuilding details slipped in bring such character to the city and make the world feel real.
I also appreciate the genuine portrayal of doubt and fear, as well as the conquering of that fear and the consistent pushing away of doubt (because it doesn’t just all go away at once).
Irellia the Night Walker
Irellia. Is. Awesome. I love her determination, her strength, and her spunk. The writing in this story is beautiful, and Wangler did an excellent job of painting vivid settings throughout the story without the use of sight. And this story is another that does an excellent job of showing genuine struggles and building a satisfying arc to resolve them.
Jennoevre the Glowing
Lewka was kind of a fascinating character to read about, because his motivation is so clear and understandable even though his actions are often (if not always) questionable, so you can clearly see how he ends up where he does. Once again, the family dynamics were critical and definitely interesting to read, and the end (or almost-end)… It was somehow heartbreaking and satisfying all at the same time.
Everything in this story revolves around family and the different relationships and priorities that each family member has, not only around the main character but also when it comes to the antagonist, so that was super fun to read. We also get a clearer look at a couple of the world’s cultures and their customs again, which is super cool.
This story focuses primarily on the Xendroqite culture, which was interesting (if a little dark, sometimes) to read about. We’re also introduced to the Maraian’s custom of arranged marriage, which was also interesting and sort of helps set up the following story. In both this story and the next, Wangler does a great job of handling messy situations tactfully without glossing over them, which is something I really admire and appreciate.
This is the kind of arranged marriage I want to read about! The kind where the characters don’t consider themselves suited to the match in the beginning, but learn to make it work. Where they mess up and have to learn to love each other better (which is true of any marriage, arranged or not). Where they end up happy even though they never would have expected to in the beginning. I so dislike angsty arranged marriages, and while this one does start out angsty, the end result was a refreshing change from the norm.