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Rise of the Seer by Brandon Barr

Rise of the Seer (cover)Completed while the author was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia, Brandon Barr’s Rise of the Seer captures the essence of holding onto hope when things seem dark. It’s part Game of Thrones with the political wrangling, backstabbing, and hidden conspiracies; but also part NeverEnding Story in that the main characters are driven by faith and a moral compass.

Though not overtly religious in theme, Rise of the Seer seems influenced by Barr’s Christian faith: questioning why bad things happen to good people, confronting temptation, and sacrifice. Indeed, these are doubts people of many faiths and religions ponder, and in this, the story carries universal appeal.

Rise of the Seer falls into the science fantasy genre, with a large, galactic conflict in play. However, told from the points of view of low-tech characters on two separate planets, aliens are described as gods and monsters, and there is an underlying sense that their two narratives will connect.

A subsistence farmer, Winter ekes out a living on the planet Loam with her twin brother, Aven. They, and their fellow farmers suffer under the yoke of Baron Rhaudius, an unredeemable sociopath who revels in executions and punishments. Winter nearly died as a child, and was saved by a Maker who gave her the gift of visions. With her ability to see the future, she carries the burden of making choices and must sacrifice some people while letting others live. Still, her faith, born out of her meeting with this Maker, serves as her moral compass, even as she confronts doubts: if gods are good, how can they allow bad things to happen to good people?

On Hearth, Meluscia lives the pampered life of a princess. She is the idealistic daughter of the ailing Luminary, ruler of a land blessed with precious metals and gems, but not with food. Her realm is involved with a border dispute with a country blessed with bountiful farmland. With her father close to death, she hopes to become the next ruler and negotiate a peace that benefits everyone; yet unbeknownst to her, powers beyond her imagination hope to exploit the conflict. As such, she struggles politically against her father’s most trusted general as they both vie for influence. At the same time, she must deal with an internal conflict: her infatuation with a married man.

Beyond the themes, the story is told through unembellished prose that reads clearly and cleanly. Barr has the knack for creating images from common words, and rhythmic beats to the sentence that keep the reader engaged.

If I had a complaint, it is that I felt the story was building toward a feel-good ending, the triumph of good over evil, and the redemption and rewarding of faith. Instead, though the story feels encapsulated and the central conflict is resolved, it still has the feel of Empire Strikes Back.

With the compelling storylines, universal questions, interesting characters, and unique worldbuilding, I highly recommend readers of fantasy and sci-fantasy give Rise of the Seer a try.

Brandon’s time with us is sadly coming to an end. He will leave behind not only his stories but also his family. All of us at Fantasy-Faction would appreciate if you could take a moment of your time to visit his GoFundMe page that was set up to help his family after he is gone. You can also learn more about his works on his website, here.

Brandon Barr - GoFundMe


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