A novel by Jesse Hajicek set in a fictional totalitarian world.Author Summary:
Imprisoned for 'inflammatory writings' by the totalitarian Theocracy, shy intellectual Ashleigh Trine figures his story's over. But when he meets Kieran Trevarde, a hard-hearted gunslinger with dark magic lurking in his blood, Ash finds that necessity makes strange heroes... and love can change the world.
This work is also available in its entirety on the web.This book provides examples of:
Combat Pragmatist: Kieran isn't interested in "rules" of combat. Mostly, he cares about coming out alive.
Crapsack World: Racism, misogyny, homophobia, disease, authoritarian government... really, whatever bad thing you want to avoid is somewhere in this universe. However, it appears to be the "mutable" variety, in which at least some people, at some times, can affect good, which allows for a relatively hopeful ending.
Dark Is Not Evil: Kieran thinks his magic makes him look like an evil man, but he isn't... well, not exactly, anyway.
Dark and Troubled Past: Kieran's, involving his mother's murder, survival prostitution, repeated rapes, the manifestation of creepy powers, and committing homicide in self-defense when he was nine.
Drugs Are Bad: Not only will opium turn you into a hitman for your dealer, but a high dose in a pot of coffee will kill or incapacitate most of a large prison's well-trained guards, and Medur explicitly describes teaching the cultivation of the poppy as "evil".
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Eskarne appears to be based on a combination of England and America in full manifest-destiny mode, Iavians are based on Native Americans of ancient Mexico and the American Southwest, and Yelorre seems to lift its fables and people's appearance from Ireland, although we don't learn as much about it.
Hitman with a Heart: Kieran spends part of the book as an unrepentant murderer for hire, but that's before he encounters the magical power of love. If you've read the back cover, the result isn't much of a surprise. (In Kieran's defense, he was a Son of a Whore, an orphan, and an abused prison inmate before turning to assassination as a career in his teens.)
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rasa, Kieran's mother. Averted with pretty much all the other examples— Kieran gave up hooking as soon as he found out he could make more money killing people, and Shou Shou seems even worse.
Mind Rape: The basic purpose of Churchrock Prison is to collect inmates for the purpose of poking and prodding at their minds. Just to make everyone feel better, the authorities call the procedure a "survey."
No Woman's Land: The Theocracy will rip magical powers out of any woman it finds, possibly leaving her a mentally disabled as a result.