The Halls of Venn are the seat of both knowledge and power in the great continent of Luna Ruinam. Renia, a scribe with a tragic past, spends her days expertly copying books that do little to satiate her desire for knowledge.
When a fateful commission lands on her desk, she finds herself tasked with transcribing a book coveted by assassins from the southern continent. Its theft throws the scribing halls into chaos and threatens to destroy the fragile peace that exists between their nations.
Haunted by dreams of her past, Renia must learn
to master her impulses and awaken her long dormant magical abilities if she is
to prevent war.
Fate, it would seem, is eager to grant her wishes. Yet she must risk everything to pursue it, and pay the bloody price it demands.
Renia is the first novel in the Luna Ruinam series, and the debut story from Karl Forshaw. A genre-blending idea, with a complex plot featuring multiple characters in a fantasy world with steampunk elements, some horror touches, and certain investigative fiction ideas.
A story divided into three parts, with a progressive increase in complexity, starting with the first one where we are just following Renia, a scribe who is marked by her past. A past that we get to experience through the use of flashbacks, intertwined with the narration, in a well-balanced way. Renia is a flawed character, but she will become a key piece in this story, which will steadily become more complex.
As we continue with the next parts, Forshaw starts introducing several different POVs, increasing the complexity of the story, but at the same time picking your curiosity; as the world is expanded, we start getting more questions than answers. The fight for power at Venn's Halls is fierce, with several groups trying to gain control over it.
As this is a character-based story, we will be jumping from different ones, but most of them are flawed people, some of them trying to overcome their defects, while others practically accept them as part of them.
The world is super original. While at first sight, you would say it is closer to a classic fantasy one, this perception gets changed the more you are immersed in the story. Small elements are intertwined in the existence, such as coffee machines, giving those small steampunk vibes to the world.
And the lightstone concept is really well executed, starting with a more mysterious aura that starts to become progressively more complex once we start to know the details behind it, and how they are produced/refined.
Renia is a really unique novel, a debut that has impressed me. There's so much potential behind the world of Luna Ruinam, and if you are into genre-blending novels, you should totally give it try!
Karl Forshaw was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. After a successful career as a contract software developer and all the travel that came with it, he settled down on the edge of the countryside with his wife, children, and dog, where he now resides. He writes from his basement to a soundtrack of obscure music, drinking too much coffee and watching his fish grow.