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Nov032014

Book Review: The Sun God's Heir

The Sun God’s Heir. Elliott Baker. Musa Publishing, July 23, 2014, Kindle Edition, 269 pages.

Reviewed by Stephanie Wilson Medlock.

Set in seventeenth century France, The Sun God’s Heir is the first book in a trilogy about Rene Gilbert, the son of a prosperous merchant who is almost supernaturally talented with a sword. Rene has trained with a master who taught him techniques of extraordinary spatial awareness along with the ability to harness his own emotions. The nineteen year old hopes never to use the killing skills he has learned. But this is not to be.

After the brutal Victor Gaspard kills his best friend, Martin, in a duel, Rene takes up his sword and cuts the murderer to ribbons. But he does not actually kill him, and the Gaspard family vows revenge on Rene and his family.  

Meanwhile, Rene has fallen in love with Claire, the woman Martin once desired. But just as this relationship is beginning, Rene must escape to the family ship, The Belle Poulé, and sail off to elude Gaspard. The journey is also to trade on behalf of his father.

Rene’s voyage is filled with sea battles as he encounters pirates and slave ships, but he also meets new allies. When he meets Akeefa, the daughter of a Muslim trader, he recognizes her as a kindred spirit. She has the exceptional ability to read the emotional currents around her and to fight like a demon. Both Rene and Akeefa may be the reincarnation of Egyptian royalty, whose actual purpose in life is to prevent Horemheb, a time traveling Egyptian general, from taking control of the earth and plunging it into centuries of darkness and corruption.

The Sun God’s Heir is on one hand a lively and well written story, filled with swashbuckling and realistic battles, and fascinating detail about commercial ships, pirates, and trading in the late seventeenth century. The author appears to have mastered the political nuances of the time, describing the situation of the Jews and the Muslims in Spain, as well as the emerging sultanate of Morocco.

The accuracy in setting and physical descriptions does not extend to the characters, who seem strictly twenty-first century. Whether the heroines are members of the French nobility or high-ranking Muslin women, they have a freedom of speech and movement that Gloria Steinem would envy. More troubling, the characters are largely one-dimensional. Either they are totally well meaning and honorable, or despicably evil. Besides being invincible, which makes Rene’s sword battles disappointingly predictable, this nineteen-year-old never has a bad mood, an unfair thought, or even a moment of irritation. The reader never really fears for Rene since his success is a foregone conclusion.

Baker intersperses the realistic aspects of the plot with Rene’s fascinating and often moving reflections on his master’s teachings, and less frequently, with chapters that focus on the ancient evil struggling to move into the seventeenth century and take on an embodied form. 

The magical secondary plot is not well developed in this book. The references to an ancient past are so different from the book’s main plot, and appear so irregularly, that their importance is easily overlooked. Some of this can be explained by the fact that The Sun God’s Heir is the first book in a trilogy. More on the actions of demonic ancient gods will no doubt assume greater importance in subsequent novels.

This first book also ends a bit too abruptly with none of its conflicts resolved. Readers will have to wait for upcoming editions to learn more about Horemheb’s attempts to destroy Rene, and which of two bewitching young women will ultimately claim his affections.

 

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