Book Review : Sword of the Lamb
The Phoenix Legacy series
By M.K. Wren
(New ebook cover)
(Book 2, Original Cover)
(Book 3, Original Cover – which I think is more fun)
In the 33rd Century, a vast empire teeters on the brink of collapse.
At the heart of the Concord, unrest is festering. Unrecognized by the Elite, the ruling class, an undercurrent of rebellion is surging through the enslaved Bond class. It’s a threat that could bring down all of civilization, creating a third Dark Age.
Lord Alexand, first born of the House of DeKoven Woolf, stands to inherit a vast industrial empire along with a seat on the Directorate, the Concord’s ruling body. But he sees the writing on the wall and realizes that if the Bonds explode into total rebellion, there will be nothing to inherit, and the toll in human suffering will be beyond calculation. He makes a terrible choice then: He chooses to “die” and join the Society of the Phoenix, a clandestine organization whose existence is known to only a few Directorate Lords, who consider membership treason and punishable by death. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
This fantastic series has been out of print and my old books are falling apart and when I saw it available on Kindle for $9.99 I had to snap it up. When I want to read a saga, this is one of my favorites.
There are several layers to why this series works so well.
Characters (there are tons, but here are a couple of examples):
Alexand DeKoven Woolf, is the arch-type leading man. His pride is his achilles heel. He is very much a Byronic hero who could become moody and self-centered if he didn’t have key people in his life, such as Adrien and Rich. Because of his tutor, brother and parents Alex has a strong moral character. Ultimately he is a protector of others, his brother’s ideals, and humanity. Alex is the heir to the Lordship of the House of DeKoven Woolf and the hope of the secret society of the Phoenix, where he is known as Alex Ransom.
Richard Wo0lf (Richard Lamb), is the younger brother, sensitive and dying. He is a foil for Alexand and helps give him direction. Rich is in an exceptional position because he is able to extend his studies disguised as a Fesh. In doing so, he gains insight into the plight of the Bonds and the inevitable death of the Concord.
Adrien Eliseer is the intelligent, beautiful, sensitive woman who is the only one who can comprehend Alexand, and the only one who can save him. She is the strong female character typified in books written in the 80’s. She is easy to admire because of her integrity. She maintains her femininity, but remains in a supporting role to Alexand.
Badir Selasis and his son, Karlis Selasis are selfish, focused on power, wealth and position. They epitomize everything wrong in the social structure of the Concord.
Jael is from the Outside and as a member of the Phoenix can access places that are otherwise unaccessible for the secret organization. He acts as another foil to Alexand. Where Alexand is polished, Jael is rough. Jael is every bit the Lord in his world as Alexand is within the Concord. Secrets swirl around Jael.
Explaining the history and sociological state of the Concord could easily become cumbersome. Wren accomplishes this through recorded documents of Richard Lamb and other intellectuals of the Fesh class.
Blending a medieval society with a futuristic society has taken a lot of thought, and Wren has a full backstory to know how this world was created. I enjoy having the transparency of knowing all of her thoughts of how a society could decay into a caste system and retain technology, otherwise, it would have been too unbelievable. If these parts aren’t interesting to you they can easily be skipped.
The Phoenix Legacy has my favorite kind of plot, it is driven by the characters rather than the events. How the characters react in each situation is completely believable because the people are consistent in their characterization.
The plot complexity is another favorite aspect. It encompasses religion, including varying sects, political machinations, family relationships, rivalries, and a love interest. The pacing is consistent, and not rushed since it is three books. (Kindle plans a reader will need over 20 hours of reading to complete the series.) It is a book that you want to dive into completely.
I can’t believe I’ve never read anything else by Wren! That is one of my new assignments.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars
If you liked this series I would recommend Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, The Gray Wolf Throne series by Cinda Williams Chima and Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.