The Fade, by Chris Wooding

The Fade combines elements of science fiction and fantasy and the story is constructed upon an intriguing foundation: the main storyline flows chronologically, but it is interspersed with reverse-order flashbacks that detail significant experiences in the protagonist’s past. The main storyline is a revenge-fueled adventure within a fantasy/science-fiction setting.

The title has several meanings and sets up a twist that, unfortunately, I found to be over-telegraphed, which took some of the fun out of the tale, but I still enjoyed the story more than I thought I would. The novel is presented in first-person narrative, a fascinating way of building a world in bits and pieces. The protagonist doesn’t spend a lot of time describing the wonders of her world (as she wouldn’t, being a native), yet the alien atmosphere is successfully transmitted to the reader (the image on the book’s front cover helped).the_fade_cover

Long before the action in the novel, humans had settled beneath the surface of Callepsa, a moon that orbits a gas giant, Beyl. The surface of Callepsa is uninhabitable, but the cavernous subterranean world consists of countries, seas, warriors, magicians, and intriguingly alien creatures and scenery. War is common, fought by highly proficient warriors and the thaumaturgy of adept magicians.

The protagonist, Massima Leithka Orna, is indentured; a Bondswoman, a servant of the Clan Caracassa. Orna is a warrior/spy/assassin of the clan’s Cadre, which also includes chthonomancers (wielders of magic). Near the beginning of the novel, Orna’s husband is killed in a particularly vicious battle, and she is taken prisoner. Orna is convinced a betrayal caused her husband’s death and her capture, and the rest of the story’s arc documents her escape and her act of vengeance.

I thought the ending was a bit weak; I expected a twist I hadn’t foreseen, but I did enjoy the story and I would read a sequel to this short, exciting novel that left room for more…

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