The compelling sequel to The Burning Land--a powerful tale of faith and oppression, forbidden magic, love, and redemption....
After long years of oppression, the Kingdom of Arsace has reclaimed the capital city of Ninyâser and the First Temple of Ârata. But the powerful Brethren can tolerate no challenge to their rule of the church, and an expedition to destroy the secret colony of Refuge, home to ancient mysteries and heretical sorcery, has proved to be the catalyst for war.
Râvar, the last and mightiest of Refuge's hidden Shapers, vows vengeance against the Brethren and the god he believes has abandoned him. Kidnapping the Dreamer Axane to aid him in his quest, he claims the title of Next Messenger, harbinger of the world's rebirth into a new age of light, and, with his army of fanatical followers, marches on the holy city of Baushpar. As Arsace races to prepare for battle, the Shaper and former priest Gyalo Amdo Samchen must leave his peaceful life behind to save Axane--and to confront, at last, his own destiny.
Against a backdrop of war, insurrection, and sacrifice, two powerful Shapers must discover who is the true Next Messenger, a quest that will lead to salvation...or destruction.
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Praise for The Awakened City
Not a fantasy in the well-trodden traditions, The Awakened City has a plot worthy of the Old Testament, with the dilemma that many a prophet faced: does one answer the call of god or choose a life that will satisfy the human heart? This is not a tale of magic nor a quest, but a book that dares to examine the larger questions of faith, duty and love in conflict.
- Robin Hobb, author of The Tawny Man trilogy -
Strauss writes beautifully, giving close attention to the character of the human heart and the struggle for power, revenge, forgiveness, and acceptance. The many vivid, true details will stay with you long after you have finished.
- Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series -
In Strauss's cautionary tale of religious mania, the gripping sequel to The Burning Land (2004), two men of the land of Galea, Râvar and Gyalo, vie for the role of "Next Messenger," the herald of Ârata, the principal but sleeping deity of a complex religion...Through the two protagonists' opposing viewpoints, the author dramatically explores issues of religious oppression and transformation.
- Publishers Weekly -
Strauss is no slouch at pacing, characterization, and world building, and she has a real gift for coming up with scary systems of magic.
- Booklist -
Like A Canticle for Leibowitz, Strauss's The Awakened City explores deeply reflective themes like the true meaning of faith, the pitfalls of zealotry, and the very dangerous non-spiritual influences of organized religion--which in turn expose deeper questions concerning morality, redemption and the ultimate question: why do we exist? [A] highly intelligent, profoundly thought-provoking work.
- Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble Explorations -
What sets The Awakened City above any number of fantasies is the attention Strauss has devoted to the belief systems of her characters and the differing ways they approach those beliefs...Strauss' invented religion of Âratism allows for doubters, and her characters live in their world as many do in our own, without metaphysical certainty and with only the hope of doing what is right. This novel, and its predecessor, are both superb fantasies that deserve a wide readership.
- Pamela Sargent, SciFi.com (read the review)-
And masterly as the writing is, what impresses me most is how the author weaves the intangible nature of belief inextricably into this tale...This is a thrilling story that works supremely well as fiction while prompting thoughtful reflection on the fundamentalism and secularism complicating our world today.
- Juliet E. McKenna, Emerald City (read the review)-
The Awakened City takes full advantage of the rich world previously introduced in The Burning Land (2004) and provides a compelling ending to an epic tale of clashing religious ideologies...Fine thought-provoking and, at times, moving fantasy.
- Paula Guran, Fantasy (read the review)-
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