Friday, February 20, 2015

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton (Seeker book 1)

“The truth will end them all.”

Quin Kincaid has been training since she was eight to become a Seeker, a protector of the weak and defender of justice. It is a family legacy that is centuries old. She believes that a Seeker’s purpose is worthy. Now at fifteen, she and her cousin Shinou are having what might be their final practice fight. John Hunt, a year older, will attempt to prove that he still belongs. He arrived at the isolated Scottish estate at the age of twelve to begin his training. When the very real fight with Briac, Quin’s father and Alistair, Shinobu’s father, is over, Briac tells Quin and Shinobu to meet at midnight at the standing stone to take their oaths. John, a superior fighter who failed the test will meet with him at dinner time in the commons where they will speak freely.

John and Quin leave the training barn separately. He heads towards the woods, knowing that Quin will be meeting him there. In love with each other, they meet secretly and erroneously think no one knows of their relationship. Discussing John’s failure during the fight, Quin believes that her father, although a cruel man, will allow John to continue his training. John isn’t so sure but doesn’t voice his opinion. Knowing the truth behind the Seekers, he had promised his mother before she died that he would attempt to take back what rightfully belongs to their family.  While hiding amongst the trees, a aircar lands at the estate. A rarity, Quin sneaks back home to eavesdrop on her father’s conversation, leaving John alone in the woods.

Caught eavesdropping, her father and the young man from the aircar leave the house to head outside for some privacy. Her mother sees her and asks if she was listening in. Quin refutes by asking if they are arranging her marriage. Quin’s parents had an arranged marriage. Her mother had trained as a Seeker but never took the oath. No, her mother says and that she hopes that Quin will be able to choose her mate based on love. She then asks her how far she and John have gone in their relationship. Kissing is all but Quin is stunned that everyone seems to know. The conversation turns to the oath that night. Her mother tells her to think about what she will be doing. Once she takes her oath, there will be no going back. Quin is adamant about fulfilling her destiny. She and John will be Seekers together. She leaves as her mother begins to tear up.

That same day, Alistair takes Shinobu into the nearest town. They end up outside of a house where a girl, Alice, resides. Alistair asks him if he really wants to take the oath. If he doesn’t become a Seeker, he could have a life in the town with a girl like Alice who would love him. His father knows that he is harboring feelings for Quin, who is a distant cousin, but she doesn’t feel the same way. Shinobu is just as adamant about taking the oath as Quin. His father turns his face away and seems to also be wiping away tears.

Leaving her mother behind, she goes outside and their visitor has left already. Instead, she does see her father walking with John, a hand on his shoulder. What she doesn’t know is that the conversation is going very badly. John reminds Briac of his promise but Briac counters that the promise was to train him, not necessarily make him a Seeker. John knows the truth behind the Seekers and asks what will Quin say when she finds out. Briac is undeterred. They walk towards a deserted barn to find a modern hospital room hidden inside. On the bed hooked up to tubes and wires is a decimated person that John is unable to tell the age or even sex of. The room is a reminder for those who fail at what the disruptor, a Seeker weapon, can do to them. John is livid at the inhuman treatment of the unknown person but Briac tells him that it serves it’s purpose. He is being sent back home to his grandfather.

At midnight, Quin finds Shinobu, their fathers plus the two Dreads who live on the estate at the standing stone. Everyone is dressed in black. The young Dread is heating an iron poker in the fire. Having only seen the athame, “the finder of hidden ways”, twice before, Quin is thrilled to finally learn the secrets of the Seekers. She and Shinobu are both shocked when her father pulls out a similar instrument to the athame, only longer. He says that it is the lightning rod, the companion that allows the athame to come to life. Briac strikes them together and draws a circle that opens into There. Everyone including the two Dreads step in. The circle close but Briac opens a second one. As the second circle collapses in on itself, Quin sees a manor house at the bottom of the hill. Seemingly peaceful, she looks at Shinobu and they are both confused. Not really expecting a truly horrible scene, she wonders what injustice they might find inside. All six head down the hill.

Not knowing how much time has passed, Quin and Shinobu wake up covered in someone else's blood and retch. Briac tells them to get it together. He asks the Dreads if they have met the standards and the Big Dread says yes. Alistair just stares at the coals of the fire. Briac asks that the brand to be brought over and the Young Dread does. He asks Shinobu first if he is ready to take his oath and become a sworn Seeker. Quin notices that Shinobu has a look of our hatred on his face. Quin is forced to kneel next to Shinobu and is asked if she is ready. Looking at her father whom she resembles so much, she realizes that they are nothing alike on the inside. Quin suddenly realizes just how much her father has lied to her. Held at knifepoint by the Dreads, Quin realizes that her father will kill her if she doesn't recite the oath. She has gone There and there is no turning back. Quin starts and Shinobu soon joins her. The Dread places the hot poker against their wrists. They are both now branded Seekers.

If being a Seeker is no longer as honorable as Quin was led to believe, what do they actually do? What promise to Briac make to John’s family? Why did he want to become a Seeker so badly? Who was the man arrived in the aircar? What happened the night Quin and Shinobu took their oaths? Why did Shinobu have a look of hatred on his face? What does Quin after she discovers her father’s deceit? Will Shinobu tell Quin how he feels about her? Are Quin and John able to maintain their relationship? Why are the Dreads an important part of the Seeker community? What secrets do they know. Do any more Seekers exist elsewhere in the world?

A fantasy set in the future with a definite medieval feel, book two in the trilogy, Traveler, is due out in 2016.

Visit Arwen Elys Dayton’s website.

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