The Lost Sentinel by Suzanne Rogerson is an independently published fantasy book that sparked my interest. I was intrigued by the concept of a magic that connects the people to their land and the consequences that ensue when the magic-wielders are being persecuted. Sadly, it wasn’t easy for me to connect to the characters and understand their development since we have three perspectives and a lot of time jumps that make the connection difficult.
The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel. With the Kalayan people turning their back on magic, can Tei help the exiles find their new Sentinel before it’s too late?
Kalaya is controlled by the Assembly – set up to govern but now under the control of Rathnor, who is intent on persecuting those who have magic, many of whom have taken refuge in the Turrak Mountains.
Tei has been raised to hide her magic, until her father, Migil, is visited by an old friend who warns them that they must seek refuge in the mountains.
On the journey, an enemy attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He sees her into the care of two exiles, Rike and Garrick, and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession that changes Tei’s life.
Tei must put her trust in these strangers, especially when mysterious Masked Riders seem determined to stop her reaching Turrak.
Struggling with self-doubt, Tei joins the exiles in their search for their lost Sentinel. But the Masked Riders want the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.
Can Tei help the exiles save the island magic and reunite the Kalayan people before their ignorance destroys them all? (link to Goodreads)
The main plotline takes place in the world of Kalaya. On the one hand, we have the normal people ruled by the Assembly who have turned their back on magic and blame the fact that the land is dying on the people who wield it. On the other hand, we have the exiled magic-wielders who found their refuge in the mountains and build a home there. They are led by a powerful figure called the Sentinel, but the current Sentinel is dying and there needs to be a new one to safe the land from dying. I liked that this is a story where magic isn’t necessarily seen as something good by the people of Kalaya, even if it’s based on prejudice and ignorance. However, I would’ve liked more explanation about how this conflict came to be and how exactly this is connected to the island and its magic.
The magic system itself is rooted in nature itself and the connection between all living things and the earth they live on. Some people are able to wield this magic and our main protagonist Tei is even able to traverse into the astral world where the spirits go to after death. I loved this harmonious, spiritual concept of magic and the fact that there needs to be a balance for everything in order to keep the island alive. The people connected to the island even see it as their duty to guide all spirits into the afterworld to ensure that they find their way and are reunited with the island.
There is also another scenery that takes place on a very barren and unhospitable island called Stone Haven. The people who live there now had to flee their homeland because it was raided by pirates and they are now dependend on seafare to survive. This setting had a dystopian feel for me and it was very gripping to see how these people overcome their struggle and start a new life on this island that isn’t very inhabitable.
The characters and their development were the weakest point of the book in my opinion. We first follow Tei, who has to flee with her father to the mountain refuge because of her magical abilities. She is very insecure and shaken by the unfolding events and the fact that her father gets killed along the way. She doesn’t know what to expect from the exiles and her new life among them. I liked that she bonded with Rike and Garrick, the two exiles that helped her and her father during their journey, and expecially Rike is a very interesting character. But Tei’s perspective is frequently intermitted by two other perspectives and I felt like this was the reason I couldn’t really connect with her. There’s one scene in particular where there is a lot of “telling” instead of “showing”. Tei goes on a journey to bond with her protector and we are told that they really felt closer at the end of it and that Tei had grown since she came to the mountains. There is simply too little time with Tei to see her development and the connections she makes with people around her unfold.
One of the two other perspectives mentioned earlier is Brogan’s. He is a simple farmer on Kalaya when his father gets ill and he has to take over his seat in the Assembly. He gets in contact with magic early on when he discovers that his farm helpers daughter can wield it, but he doesn’t believe in the rumors and wants to protect her at all costs. I liked that we get to see the Assembly with its leader Rathnor through his eyes and how Rathnor carries out his campaign against the exiles and all magic wielders on Kalaya. However, I would have liked more details about Rathnor’s motivations and actions, since he is the story’s villain and I prefer my villains to have some motivation apart from just being evil for the sake of it.
The last perspective takes us to the other island I mentioned earlier. We follow Farrell, who is the current commander of the Stone Haven fleet. He has a heavy burden to carry since his deceased father was the man who saved the people from being slaughtered by pirates and brought them to this island. He is in charge of sailing the isles around Stone Haven to bring back food and other materials that aren’t easy to get or cultivate on his new home. Even though I can’t pinpoint exactly why, I liked his perspective the most. There’s also a counsel ruling Stone Haven that feels very similar to the one on Kalaya.
I’m very curious to see how Farrell’s, Tei’s and Brogan’s storylines will correlate and what will happen to the people of Stone Haven.
Overall, the story and the characters have a lot of potential and I enjoyed reading this book. There are a lot of times where we follow the characters on their way from one point to another and I feel like this could have been cut in favour of getting to know the characters even better and to give the world a bit more depth. Nonetheless, I would recommend checking out this book if you like fantasy stories that take a twist on the well-known chosen one trope and that are told from several point of views that feature different parts of the world contributing to the overall story.
I received a digital copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.