I am very excited to have been given a copy of The Children of Never, part of the War Priests of Andrak Saga, by Christian Warren Freed.
“Mist hovered over the near empty fields. Stands of cedar and black pine broke the monotony of what many considered the endless boredom of the grass plains. Pastures and farmlands stretched as far as a man might walk in a day and beyond. Folks here kept to themselves and preferred others to do the same.”
So begins The Children of Never, the first in the War Priests of Andrak Saga by Christian Warren Freed.
I was absolutely hooked from this first paragraph. This fantasy book has everything — mystery, magic and a whole lot of lore.
The book starts with children going missing across the duchy of Fent. Baron Einos is then forced to act, to try and solve this mystery before unrest and rebellion grows in the local population. The Grey Wanderer has been stealing the children in the middle of the night — a knight who has risen from the dead for reasons unknown. He works with the local constable, Kastus, and after some deliberation, he summons the war priests of Andrak who specialise in fighting magical foes. The Baron also enlists the help of Lizette, a local peasant whose daughter is one of the missing children. She acts as liaison between the baron and the local peasants, and later, the priests of Andrak.
I really liked the characters in this book. They are all well fleshed out — even characters who are only in the book briefly. For example, despite only being in the book for a couple of pages, when you meet Covis and Barin, two children who are playing in the village of Fent, they feel very realistic. Even the Grey Wanderer himself, despite clearly being a villain, was a character that I ended up feeling very sympathetic and even sorry for as the story went on, which I feel is quite a feat!
The world feels like your typical medieval-esque fantasy world, with elements of magic mixed in with primitive swords and castles. There is clearly a lot of history and lore here that I look forward to learning more about. For example, you meet a Sclarem, described as a mysterious figure with “pale green flesh” and “a mane of blackest hair,” and the Majj, a red-skinned warrior race standing seven feet tall with “great shaggy mans, claws and fangs.” This makes the world feel incredibly rich and full of life. I really want to learn more about the F’talle and the Omegri, too.
At the start of the book, it felt that it would be another medieval fantasy world with hardly any female characters. The only key female character is Lizette, who becomes a valuable aid to Baron Einos, despite her common background. The Lady Deana, an elder in the local village of Palis, plays a small part in the story (mostly to be difficult and annoyed with the constable).
The baron’s wife, Aneth, is only a minor background character — she is currently pregnant so doesn’t leave the castle. But as she says: “This castle needs more strong women. Too many men spoil matters and the conversation is droll.” However, as the story progressed more strong women were introduced (Arella and Sanice). I would like to see more of them — they are mostly ‘off camera’, showing up later in the story when the focus is on other characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series to find out more about this fascinating world.
About the book
The war priests of Andrak have protected the world from the encroaching darkness for generations. Stewards of the Purifying Flame, the priests stand upon their castle walls each year for 100 days. Along with the best fighters, soldiers, and adventurers from across the lands, they repulse the Omegri invasions.
But their strength wanes and evil spreads.
Lizette awakens to a nightmare, for her daughter has been stolen during the night. When she goes to the Baron to petition aid, she learns that similar incidents are occurring across the duchy. Her daughter was just the beginning. Baron Einos of Fent is left with no choice but to summon the war priests.
Brother Quinlan is a haunted man. Last survivor of Castle Bendris, he now serves Andrak. Despite his flaws, the Lord General recognises Quinlan as one of the best he has. Sending him to Fent is his best chance for finding the missing children and restoring order. Quinlan begins a quest that will tax his strength and threaten the foundations of his soul.
The Grey Wanderer stalks the lands, and where he goes, bad things follow. The dead rise and the Omegri launch a plan to stop time and overrun the world. The duchy of Fent is just the beginning.
About the author
Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Since retiring, he has gone on to publish over 20 military fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as his memoirs from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, a children’s book, and a pair of how to books focused on indie authors and the decision making process for writing a book and what happens after it is published.
His first published book (Hammers in the Wind) has been the #1 free book on Kindle 4 times and he holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Ok, so it was for 4th place in one quarter, but it’s still recognition from the largest fiction writing contest in the world. And no, he’s not a scientologist.
Passionate about history, he combines his knowledge of the past with modern military tactics to create an engaging, quasi-realistic world for the readers. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Digital Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing, his family, and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other.
Where to buy the book
You can find The Children of Never on Amazon, with a Kindle copy available for £4.13 and in paperback for £13.48. It’s also currently available on the Kindle Unlimited programme.
Many thanks to Emma Welton of damppebbles for organising this blog tour and for inviting me to take part. I was given a free copy of The Children of Never in return for an unbiased review. Do check out the other blogs who will be reviewing this book on this tour: The Midnight Review (Day 1), On the Shelf Reviews (Day 2), Jessica Belmont, the Irresponsible Reader, Laura Liz Buckley, and Forever the Wanderer.