If the “Eragon” and “A Song of Fire and Ice” series got together and had a baby, it would very closely resemble “Foreordained,” written by Dixie State University student Aaron Hall.
Call me a super nerd, but there isn’t much in the literature world that perks my excitement like a story that involves a dragon and a kingdom under turmoil. By the hands of a newly published author, this tale does not disappoint.
What makes the fantasy genre so appealing is the space of freedom an author has to create his or her own world from the ground up. They can conjure entire kingdoms from thin air and unheard-of creatures of horrifying measure. But in “Foreordained,” it may be the first time fantasy-lovers encounter a world where people worship a dragon.
Unlike other stories where dragons are greatly feared or made out to be demonic creatures of destruction, I read about a dragon deity who protected this realm of humans, and I loved it. If I joined any religion, that religion would definitely have to worship a dragon.
Hall introduced me to a kingdom unlike any I’ve read in a book. The kingdom of Nezmyth has undergone tremendous turmoil and has suffered under the rule of King Barnabas. People have succumbed to severe poverty, and nature itself has ceased to grow green and vibrant.
The Sacred Dragon oversees all that happens in Nezmyth, including watching over a young boy who goes by the name of Jason, son of Tomm the printer. Jason’s destiny has been laid out for him by the will of the Sacred Dragon when he was only 12 years old. His parents bravely kept it secret for fear King Barnabas would come for their son’s head.
Jason is the kind of young character I personally relate to most in this book. He is humble and seriously doubts himself in his capability to bring hope back to the land.
A bewitching story will always draw a distinct line between the forces of good and evil. In “Foreordained,” the stage is set for the reader to draw apart what’s good and evil while growing attached to the bad guy. I certainly did. King Barnabas isn’t the kind of villain who gets on my nerves and has no real purpose to his evil deeds. Instead, he has a malicious power complex most evidently shown in the way he torments Jason.
King Barnabas makes an oath to prevent Jason’s ascension to the throne. It comes off as borderline cowardice when the king tells Jason of his plan to relentlessly test the boy’s worthiness to rule the throne. Perhaps it’s a way of mentally torturing the boy, but after Jason witnesses King Barnabas behead one of his guards in cold blood, his moment of retaliation is my favorite moment in the whole book.
“A week ago, I didn’t want to be king,” Jason said. “I didn’t understand why I had to be the one to take the throne. But I think I’m starting to.”
From then on, I turned the pages with chills on my arms wondering how Jason would prove King Barnabas and himself wrong.
When writing a story like this, the magic is in the details. Hall gives off an almost George R.R. Martin-esque style of writing. Every angle of light and drop of sweat is illustrated on the page with intimately descriptive language. An encounter with one of the king’s assassins, which would only feel like moments to Jason, throws the reader right into the action with paragraphs containing intense imagery. You can feel the aching thud every time Jason is thrown to the ground or the burst of energy when an enemy charges at him.
Nothing compares to the scene where King Barnabas reveals he’s been meddling with ancient dark magic. He traps Jason in a nightmare vision using only the reflection in a water basin. Jason experiences hell 10 times over as King Barnabas cascades his mind with images of death and destruction — making blood burst out of his body and breaking all of his bones. Of course, all of it is just an illusion cast by an evil spell. It was the most terrifying scene I’ve ever read.
Hall’s greatest achievement is bringing to light the power that makes us good or evil. For a newly published author, Hall beats out any disposition readers may have while opening up a fantasy book with “Foreordained.” Readers will easily satisfy all of their mystical kingdom, godly dragon and usurped king cravings in this paperback tale.