Song of Edmon by Adam Burch Review

Song of Edmon is a highly thought-provoking read with a myriad of modern-day issues soaked in a fantastical setting. I feel like there's so much shade in this book. There's just so much parallelism to the real world that I thought this book is just a backdrop to the author's political and ethical views.

Song of Edmon by Adam Burch Review
Song of Edmon by
Series: The Fracture Worlds #1
Date Published:
Publisher: 47North
Language: English
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
ISBN: 9781477805350
Format: Paperback (I got a digital ARC via NetGalley for an honest review)
Pages: 444


In Adam Burch’s thrilling series debut, a young man must choose between violence and peace in a distant world divided between those who thrive in endless sunlight and those who survive in eternal darkness.

The isolated planet of Tao is a house divided: the peaceful Daysiders live in harmony while the pale Nightsiders pursue power and racial purity through the violent ritual of the Combat.

Edmon Leontes, the gentle son of a ruthless warrior noble and a proud Daysider, embodies Tao’s split nature. The product of diametrically opposed races, Edmon hopes to live a quiet life pursuing the music of his mother’s people, but his Nightsider father cruelly forces him to continue in his bloody footsteps to ensure his legacy.

Edmon’s defiance will cost him everything…and spark a revolution that will shake the foundations of Tao. His choice—to embrace the light or surrender to the darkness—will shape his own fate and that of his divided world.
Review

Edmon, the main protagonist of the story, is very intriguing. I like the way how the eggshell thing was reversed. Yes, Edmond appears to be hard on the outside but definitely soft on the inside. The process was reversed on the beginning on the book. We get to read just how unsure he is of himself, his fear of the eventuality of facing the emperor. We open the book with his narrative sounding so insecure and yet when he was finally the one on the hot seat pounded with questions by the emperor, he sounded fierce and full of fight. To the audience, he's an impudent strong boy of nine that we readers are caught by surprise.

I can't help but think of Edmon's spirit as like Rhaegar Targaryen of A Song of Ice and Fire series.

In a short amount of time, I found myself having a lot of expectations that I almost put Edmon in a pedestal. When he finally gets to meet with the Nightsiders his age, he easily outmaneuvered them. Basically, I love the depth of characterization in this book. It's not just about Edmon, it's also about his childhood friend, Phaestion Julii. Although Phaestion is a genetically-enhanced individual and his traits are almost programmed, he still has something uniquely humane about him.

There's just so much going on in this book, I almost don't know where to start. Like how I would usually do with heavy SF/F books, I would ditch writing a review and just carry on. Alas, I have a responsibility towards Netgalley and I just have to muster the best that I can in writing a cohesive review.

I find Song of Edmon a very fascinating read with a compelling and complex plot. There are so many nuances and movements layered together, from familial yearning, physical melioration, sense of belongingness, identiy and purpose, to political ideologies. Adam Burch has shaped Edmon so well, not just with his physical prowess and his emotional struggles but with his genuine love for music as well. I'm reading this book with Two Steps from Hell's Enchantress on repeat and found myself never annoyed by the music no matter how many times I listened to it on the background. The music is good and more importantly, the story is equally awesome.

I had to accompany this book with music since the character has a strong love for music. He's a great singer. I have yet to feel a great impact for his love of singing. His singing has a role in the book but I didn't really feel the effect. If I didn't feel the impact of his singing in the greater scheme of things, I did feel it with his emotional journey, his sense of self. When the going gets tough and he's in the midst of combat, aria and theatrical songs would play in his head that's apt for the current situation he's in. The author's theatrical background shows in this regard.

Plot-wise, Song of Edmon is a very grand book, with impressive word-building and masterful character development. There's never a dull moment, it grabs the attention and never let go that I had a hard time prying my eyes away from it. If my brain could only wrap solidly with the story, I would have finished the story in one sitting. Alas, I have other things to attend to and this book is quite heavy and complex in its own way, I have to moderate my reading and savor every detail each time I visit. I'm guilty of reading three other books while reading this one. There's just a lot to take in from this book. This is Adam Burch's debut novel and he's already a master storyteller.

I find it funny that the upper class of Tao (let's refer to it as both the planet and its people) have this notion that they come from perfect natural evolution when in truth, they were all products of genetic manipulation from thousands of years past. The planet of Tao is essentially divided into two groups: the Nightsiders on the Night side of the planet and the Daysiders on the Day side of the planet. Due to a comet, the planet no longer rotates on its axis. The Nightsiders basically look like the elves of The Lord of the Rings except that they are so tall and buff. They have golden hair and light-colored eyes, which is odd for Phaestion who uniquely has red hair. On the other hand, the Daysiders are characterized as having sun-kissed skin and dark hair.

Tao is governed by a government body called the Synod which encompasses the great houses, for which each house is governed by a Patriarch. The Synod manages the planet's resources including culling the inhabitants themselves. The Synod thinks that the Nightsiders are perfect people and the Daysiders are inferior to them. It is said that the Nightsiders came to planet Tao and thought they own it. Likewise, the Daysiders thought they're the first inhabitants of the planet. Tao practices strict adherence to human perfection that anybody born short of imperfection is killed during a ritual called Pavaka.

Let me backtrack a little bit. The overall setting for the story is universal in scope. The story is basically set in the future, like ten thousand years from Earth zero time. In Tao's time, the Earth has long gone unless you travel through Einstein's wormhole. There's this matrix-like traveling network where anything in space connects. There's also the Fracture Point, basically a wormhole that opens to other places in the universe and changes position around Tao. A great house's influence on the government slightly depends on the positioning of the Fracture Point which opens to the worlds of the Nine Corridors. Tao is a very isolated planet that the noble inhabitants become so big-headed. We only see a limited glimpse of aliens throughout the narrative.

Tao is a dying planet. There's limited resources that each house hungry for power and vying for the top position shapes their influence by finding the best way to maximize production and constraining trade by way of monopoly.

Every time there was conquest, it brought trade, new ideas, and inventions. They made civilization evolve to new heights. Humans soar on the wings of our violent nature. There's no other way.

The ability to kill someone doesn't make you a leader, and it doesn't make someone great. There's nothing great about dying or taking a life.

Is that what you are going to do when someone tries to take your life from you? Or the lives of your family? Yield and hope that they take pity on you?

Humanity's savageness is what makes it civilized. Technology, trade, computers, space travel. All are products of competition and conflict.

We follow the story as Edmon grows into a man. When he was a child, he sought for his absentee father's love. When he realized how terrible his father was, he no longer aimed of pleasing him but of exacting revenge from all of the hurt he caused. There's a great political agenda in the story. Edric Leontes, Edmon's father, has risen from the bowels of the lower-class Nightsiders into becoming a scion of a noble house by becoming a Combat Champion twice. He had to enter the arena twice so as to win the love of the Nightsiders. Human perfection is not only measured by mental prowess but also by physical strength. You have to best everyone in the arena by killing them. Showing the opponent mercy is besmirching the honor of one hailing from a noble house. Edmon's father had at least dishonored a noble-born opponent twice and killed many.

Edric Leontes had upset the noble class not just by killing their heirs in the arena but also by becoming one of them, a power that has been granted to him by the Emperor himself, who does not have a male heir. Yes, a male offspring is preferred over a female offspring. It is conspicuous that the Emperor is rooting for House Leontes to replace his line. Edmon Leontes originally was his father's heir but was disinherited right from the get-go. Showing his mental tenacity to the emperor earned him the hand of the heiress. So basically, you have three complications from this point: (1) the eventuality of Edmon falling in love with another when he's betrothed to the Emperor's daughter, (2) his complex feelings toward a younger brother who replaced his honor as an heir, (3) proving his worth in the eyes of the Nightsiders when he's half a Daysider. It was also at this point when Phaestion of House Julii entered the picture, a nemesis to his house.

I love this high-technology age laced with medieval culture. But instead of kings and their respective kingdoms, we have an emperor and the great houses. There's just something grand about that, especially when each house is vying for control. We see that game of power in A Song of Ice and Fire and The Wheel of Time series. The book is a real political and social commentary, all right. It's not just about Edmon's journey into becoming this strong man. There are lots of societal issues being tackled in this book, from misogyny, racism, xenophobia, prisoners turned into laborers, rape in the prison, conquering other places to exploit their resources, to the government turning to entertainment to allay the problem of dwindling resources.

You expect to shut that feeling away? No, I ask that you feel it more. There's no other way to stand over your enemy and cut out his heart. Accept your hatred and you won't be rash or stupid, you'll be cold. Don't quiet the storm. Become the storm.

Blind risk is stupid, but calculated risks are worth taking.

Fear is no crime. But acting from fear is. Know that you're going to lose everything one day, whether you fear to lose it or not.

The prison was the best part for me. It's always the case that when a character goes to prison, he'd meet a master of a secret martial arts and be taught of it. Anything that has to do with being imprisoned and breaking free reminds me of the story of The Count of Monte Cristo. I don't have any more words to say about Edmon's experiences in the prison. All I have to say is that to me, Edmon's imprisonment is the best journey in the book.

Betrayals. Betrayals everywhere. Manipulation is a constant thing in this book. Just when you thought there's a grand ending to a particular chapter, of course Edmon has to go from one FUBAR to the next, and still come out alive. He's broken in a way. He's alive but the things he has gone through is worth your food be thrown up for. I love how grim this book is. There are things here that are shocking to the core (if I have to think hard about them) but I'm somehow desensitized already. I love how no matter how idealistic you are, chaos is always present and will always ensue no matter which part of the universe. Each planet has it's own issues. Edmon has his own fight to fight while the rest of the universe have their own troubles.

I've already tackled so many and still missed so much. Lest I forget, the action sequences are really, really impressive. The author holds a Black Sash in Wing Chun Kung Fu and his mastery in martial arts shows in this book. This is why I love authors with genuine background, their narration feels so real.

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