Resize text+=

‘Irenicon:’ Advance Book Review

It’s hard to believe that Irenicon is Aidan Harte’s debut novel, as it is a beast of a tale for any author to have written by any account. Irenicon is the first in Harte’s Wave Trilogy. It is a world full of detailed, colorful history that is depicted throughout the book, interwoven with elements of Biblical scripture and with both written and spoken Hebrew. Harte does not rely on detailed maps or genealogy charts to guide the reader through the world he creates. Instead, he tells a story and lets it speak for itself. Irenicon is a stunning accomplishment for a novice writer.

The novel is set in Rasenna, a land of great internal bickering between classes, but, most particularly, the northern and southern regions. Rasenna has been divided by the Irenicon River for years, but, now, Concordia (the very people that created the River with the power of The Wave) have offered to build the Rasennians a bridge as a gift. Sofia, the heroine and Contessa, is about to turn seventeen and inherit Rasenna. She must work with the engineer the Concordians bring, somehow managing to get her people to work together and find out what the Concordians are really up to. To top it off, the only guidance she has is from Doc, her adviser and her father’s friend, as both of her parents are dead.  Irenicon’s epic love story, battles, magic, feuds, and structural issues are reminiscent of the classic tale The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

The complexities of the world’s history and the amount that Harte attempts to cover so quickly make it difficult for the reader to be in sync with the novel from the start. I am usually quick to catch on to the characters’ relations to one another and their purposes, but it took me much longer than normal in this book, part of which may have been due to the fact that many of the names sounded similar or rhymed which can catch any reader off guard. The other part, however, was the gaps of information that were initially left out which kept the reader out of the loop. Once I was in sync with the roles, however, it was an extremely quick and intoxicating read.

Harte’s use of descriptive language is absolutely haunting. I didn’t think anyone could write chapters and chapters about building a bridge and make it sound epic, perilous, and romantic. He can literally make a tree stump sound inviting. Such dynamic and robust language is not often used on everyday items, and Harte has a deceptively stealthy way of sliding it in unobtrusively.

The Baptistery, a squat, octagonal gate-tower, guarded the cloister, It was richer in design and ornament than any tower, but the real difference was that its large, green doors were always open. Some might call it hospitable. To Rasenneisi, it was provocative. As incense gently surrendered to the scent of living lilies, silence yielded to doves cooing. In the center of the garden, an old women was quietly pruning an orange tree.

Normally, a tower and door wouldn’t capture my interest so much, but I really want to walk through this one and be . . . dare I say . . . provocative?  Ooh, and those living lilies!

At times, however, Harte gets too caught up in the world he is creating, making it far too complex in too short an amount of time. Throughout the novel, history chapter inserts are included which disrupt the flow of the story and, for my taste, do not add to the structure of the overall building of the world. If they are to be used further in the series, different placement of the inserts within the book may be advisable, so they are less jarring to the reader and may add to the overall story itself.

History inserts aside, with a Warrior Princess (Contessa) who would do anything for her people and was essentially raised by the medieval equivalent of Mr. Miyagi, how could you not be swept up by this saga? Not to mention the magic of the Irenicon River that flows upstream and hosts creatures that will pull you into the waters and drown you . . . There is romance, politics, battle, endearing characters, and a nun that could take on the greatest warrior with only her habit. I, for one, look forward to riding The Wave with these characters throughout the trilogy. 

Irenicon will be available for sale starting on April 1, 2014.

Christina Brookman, Fanbase Press Contributor



Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top