Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Once Golem was the proud Dragon of the Earth. Then the Oracle’s plans for him left him broken and despairing. In his pain and rage, he left the society he was born into, melding in all ways, including physically, with the mountain they live on. And there the Golem hid deep within its recesses, paying little notice to the passing of years or the actions of the people he came from.
Then one day a child falls asleep in his lap …
That child is Lichen, the gifted problem child of the Earth Caste and he is followed Marl, a lowly Earth caste member who is chosen to look after Lichen and keep him out of trouble. Marl came out of his testing with only brown dirt and a seed on his back, instead of the more impressive and powerful designs that would have boosted his status and gifts. Marl has been content to garden and use the gifts he has in gentle ways, including looking after a lonely, intelligent child easily bored with his lessons.
Prodded by the attentions of Lichen and Marl, Golem slowly returns to human form and awareness of the struggles of the people around him. When the truth of Golem is revealed, it just might make Marl choose between his duty or the person he has come to love: Oracle or Golem?
Once more Mell Eight has delivered an enchanting fairy tale in The Oracle series, an imaginative and wholly captivating universe. The Oracle’s Golem is a prequel (in a manner) to The Oracle’s Flame (The Oracle #1) and The Oracle’s Hatchling (The Oracle #2) as the events that take place in this tale start off in the years preceding those stories. In fact, Golem is the prime figure in the main drama of The Oracle’s Hatchling, something that the reader will easily recognize early on.
Every part of Mell Eight’s enchanting universe is fascinating and fully developed to include rich details and layers of mythology. Four castes of Elementals, and which caste you belong to is decided at a ritual testing ruled over by the Oracle. Where a person falls within the Caste they are ordained for is revealed by a tattoo or pattern that appears on their back, much like a tattoo. Only these tattoos change and come to life. At the pinnacle of each Caste is a Dragon, whether it be the Dragon of Fire (first story), the Dragon of Ether (second story), the Dragon of Water (still to come) and the Dragon of Earth which is featured here. Then the levels (and people) drop in status and power and are given names accordingly.
Here is another brilliant element of this author’s universe, the names. The name corresponds to a element of each person’s caste. All Earth caste members have names that come from the Earth. Marl’s name (he is a lowly caste member) describes the clay and calcium deposits that fertilize soil. Lichen? That’s a composite of a number of organisms and has many uses so, yes, high on the scale. I love how inventive this author is when it comes to naming the characters. And then there is those fascinating patterns that appear on the back proclaiming each person’s gift and future. Poor Marl…only a field of brown dirt and a seed, a pattern that makes all the others looks down on him with distain or ignore him all together. If you find yourself a tad gleeful with anticipation when pondering that design, then this is the book for you. There are so many layers of meaning to be uncovered and appreciated here. This is a fairy tale universe for all who love champions, worlds in peril, and unexpected heroes.
Mell Eight’s narrative will draw you in completely into this world and Golem’s pain. You can almost feel the weight of the earth on top of him as he sits, so a part of the mountain that his appearance is that of stone and soil, just another boulder for a lonely, bored child would use to climb and sit on when escaping his lessons. Which is exactly how Lichen finds him. We move from past to present and back again easily, sliding through the years and memories of the characters.
I really have only two issues with this story. One, it felt that the ending came a little too quickly, and secondly, that rushed feeling made it feel a tad incomplete. I could have wished for a chapter wherein it seemed like only pages, a slight flaw in my opinion. But the world and stories Mell Eight has created for The Oracle series is far too rich and complex to let such a small issue pull it down.
You could read these stories out of order but you might find yourself saying things like “pirates? where did the pirates come from?”. That won’t happen if you read them in the order the author has written and released them. I love this series and eagerly await the next installment. Pick them all up today, including The Oracle’s Golem. It’s the perfect present to give yourself for the holidays.
Cover artist London Burden does a great job of branding this series with the stylized dragons on the covers. Love it.
Sales Links: Less Than Three Press (preorder now) All Romance (ARe) links to come amazon buy it here
Expected publication: January 21st 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleThe Oracle’s Golem
seriesThe Oracle #3
Book in The Oracle series: