It is an intriguing addition to the world of allegorical fantasy, and pretty well carried off.
In an attempt to share my favorite segment from the book, I have to share the framework of the story, so if you think you wouldn’t guess the spiritual end of the protagonist (Abramm) consider this your spoiler warning.
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Abramm, known as “The Pretender” for the two years he was a gladiator, is newly converted to the faith of “the dying god,” and faces a 200-year-old warrior king in mortal combat.
With only 1-percent of his opponent’s experience, Abramm knows there is no natural reason he should even survive, much less triumph.
He advances, praying this act of his infant faith really is Eidon’s will. If it is, Abramm trusts that somehow his God will fight for him.
The king, Beltha’adi, is preternaturally sustained in his prime by the malevolent power that he worships, and obviously considers himself immortal.
The fight is not over swiftly, and surprisingly it is Abramm that lets the first blood.
…only a tiny cut, but Beltha’adi lurched back with a curse. It wasn’t from the pain, but from the indignity of of being the first one blooded– him who had expected not to be blooded at all.
They circled again.
“You’re good Pretender,” Beltha’adi grated, “but you’re only flesh. And flesh isn’t good enough to stand against a god.”
Abramm kept his gaze fixed on Beltha’adi’s.
“No,” he agreed. “It’s not.”
Best line in the whole book (not to diminish the book).