The Broken Crescent is a fantasy novel by S.A. Swann. Nate Black spent his teens as the hacker Azrael, who could get in anywhere, crack any system, steal any data. When he turned 18, he purged all evidence of his connection to someone who'd broken any number of Federal laws. Then someone started sending him messages from a completely anonymous source, telling him that the Feds were on to him, and soon he would have to choose his path.
When the FBI shows up at his university classroom, Nate flees, into a mysterious shadow. He comes out to find himself on another world, where he doesn't know the language or culture, and his tall stature, pale skin and red hair stand out like a sore thumb among the small, dark locals.
Here, all the world is a crescent-shaped continent, ruled by the magi of the College of Man, and secondarily by the Monarch. The silent, inhuman Ghadi are slaves everywhere, among the ruins of the cities their kind once built, before a curse stole the capacity of language from their brains. The College rules through their knowledge of the Language of the Gods, which enabled their ancestors to strike down the Ghadi, but misuse can drive a wizard mad, or kill them.
Here, Nate is believed to be the prophesied Angel of Death, sent by the hated divinity Ghad, patron and creator of the Ghadi, to destroy the world and humanity. Some factions would destroy him, others would use him, but all fear him.
This book contains examples of the following tropes:
- Functional Magic: Rule Magic type. The Language of the Gods alters reality in specific, definable, and predictable ways.
- Godzilla Threshold:Nate Black/Azrael is the Angel of Death sent by a god who hates Mankind to bring them down. The Monarch and his Shadow College consider using him to still be a lesser evil than allowing the College of Man to continue to run things.
- Magic A Is Magic A: The Language of the Gods operates much like a programming language for reality. Once you know the words and syntax, you can precisely define and predict the effects.
- Magical Society: All magical practitioners belong to the College of Man, which points to the potential catastrophes if the Language of the Gods is misused.
- The Magocracy: The Monarch is the official ruler of the Kingdom of Man, but the College of Man is a law unto themselves, who control access to almost all resources through their magic and can overrule the Monarch at will.
- The Speechless: The Ghadi cannot speak, nor can they comprehend any type of spoken or written language.
- Wizarding School: The College of Man is the exclusive source for magical training; if they think you can learn the Language of the Gods, they'll take you, and then you learn what they say.