by Vic James
“Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils.”
In England, all power is held by the few, who have the power of magic. The rest of the populace is subject to seven years of slavery. Until the seven years of slavery are served, they lack full citizenship.
In hopes of better opportunities, 17-year-old Luke’s parents have decided the entire family would serve their seven years of slave days together at the estate of the powerful, magical Jardine family. Luke is angry and resentful of his parent’s decision. His resentment becomes fear and trepidation when he is sent to the dangerous environs of a slave town rather than the Jardine estate.
The Jardine family is powerful. The elder Jardine was the former Chancellor. But the family is a pit of snakes. It is a constant struggle for power and control. Magic is everything. The person with the most magic will rule.
The conditions of the Jardine are visibly better than the slave town. The work is not dangerous. But there are dangers. These dangers are more subtle.
This was my favorite book of 2016 as I had the opportunity to read an advance copy. The characterization was skillful. The characters are multi-dimensional. Even a unlikeable character, Gavar, a killer and rapist, could engender sympathy.
There is considerable action and intrigue involving many plots and subplots as the story moves between the Jardine estate to the slave town, from character to character. It is a powerful story and an emotional, searing condemnation of slavery. There is no such thing as a good master and slavery is demeaning to all involved. Reducing a person to chattel is an act of evil. Vic James has created a mesmerizing and satisfying fantasy.