BINGO – NEW SERIES
Originally published in 2019, Wicked Saints is the first novel in a young adult, fantasy series that follows a young cleric named Nadya from a downtrodden land Kalyazi. She is able to commune with the entire pantheon of gods and petition them for assistance and magic. The people of Kalyazi are in a century-long war against Tranavia primarily led by a young mage named Serefin who is also the prince of Tranavia. The people of Tranavia reject the gods and instead rely on their own magic system which requires blood to be spelt on pieces of paper with spells written on them. After an attack on her monastery home by Serefin himself, Nadya and her companion escape and form an alliance with a motley crew of people including a Tranavian blood mage named Malachiasz who abandoned his post in the military.
Though still not stellar, the best part of the book is the treatment of religion from two of the main characters. Nadya and Malachiasz have nearly polar opposite beliefs on what roles the gods should play in people’s lives. Nadya believes that the gods should have a role in every part of everyone’s lives benefiting from the gods power and protection in exchange for obedience to the gods’ proclamations. Malachiasz believes that everyone should be able to make their own choices at all times without any undue influence from the gods. Malachiasz and Nadya are both teenagers, and their treatment felt very superficial.
What must be mentioned is that Duncan has been accused by many readers for anti-Semitism. As can been seen in the names above, the setting, though fictional, is clearly inspired by Eastern Europe primarily Poland and Russia, Tranavia being a facsimile for Poland and Kalyazi for Russia (based on their geographic locations west and east of each other). The issue is that the Tranavia magic is based on blood sacrificing which, many pointed out, relies on a anti-Semitic trope called blood libel that proports that the Jewish people use blood sacrifices (particularly those blood of children) in their rituals. This anti-Semitic trop is solidified in Wicked Games when one considers that (SPOILER) the King of Tranavia sacrifices his own son in order to use his blood to ascend to godhood. (END SPOILER)
This is going to be the last book I read in this series.