The first book of The Aurora Chronicles follows eleven-year-old Reila as she grows to maturity and becomes aware of her destiny to lead a foreign country, the prosperous and psychically-oriented Liang, and defend it from what she’s been raised to believe is her home country, the warlike Shiin. All inhabitants of Liang possess different kinds of telekinetic Power, whereas the kingdom of Shiin is noted for its lack of Powered people, and therefore seeks them out in order to make use of their abilities for conquest. What is intriguing about these Powers, and adds much richness to the characters, is that each person has a different kind of Power, with inherent strengths and limitations which each individual must acknowledge and master.
Reila’s relationship with the Shiin emperor’s son Kaito begins in childhood enmity but deepens into romance and comradeship as they grow older, develop their powers, and begin to understand the evil at the heart of Shiin’s belligerence towards its neighbor. The author shows a great deal of insight into the relationship of Crown Prince Kaito and his warmongering father, Emperor Sohryu; their father/son bond is complex and fascinating. The Emperor possesses the charismatic Power of being able to brainwash anyone into following his demented visions, and Kaito isn’t strong or independent enough to fully assert himself. Thus it’s a constant struggle for him to assert what’s right as he struggles to define his role amid the turbulent politics and the outbreak of war between the two kingdoms. Meanwhile, Aurora, an undefinable raw entity centered in Liang, soon focuses its unsettling interest on Reila. As she assumes growing responsibility and leadership in Liang, she must make some daunting choices about how to deal with this unfathomable mystical power.
The book has an epic quality; Reila’s adventures are simultaneously a coming of age story and part of a grand chain of fated events which the author unfolds in a well-constructed narrative as she fashions numerous fully realized and thought-provoking characters. I’m looking forward to Book Two, The Raven’s Sister.
review by Michael D. Smith