Fellow indie author and kindred spirit Bob Craton has written a fascinating trilogy about four pacifists who must join forces to save their world from a brutal empire. I enjoyed the first novel in his series recently, and below I share the synopsis and Bob’s bio with you.
Journey to Light: Part I of The High Duties of Pàçia: Imagine a world populated with the entire spectrum of humanity. Good people, ordinary citizens of small cities, fear attack from brutal and powerful men called the Zafiri. Great Cities are divided between the decadence and splendor of the wealthy and the deprivation and squalor of the poor. An organization of women known as the Sistéria is widely known but little understood. Its members have the talent to use ‘effect,’ the ability the read and control the emotions of others, and sometimes to have prescient visions of the future. And people in Pàçia, a land with an ancient history set apart from the rest of the world, were once gentle, kind and peaceful. Their leaders did not have the power to rule or command; instead they had duties to fulfill – High Duties which for millennia helped make the world a better place. That is, until twelve years earlier when the Zafiri invaded Pàçia with a massive army, capturing the beautiful city Abbelôn and crushing the gentle people. Now the rest of the world is threatened by more war and destruction.
Then an extraordinary young woman named Sistére Graice crosses paths with a man unlike any she has met before. Her ‘effect,’ which has always worked on everyone else, has no power over him. Known only as Holder, the man has no memory and doesn’t know his own identity. Graice’s mentor Sybille hires him as a guide for a journey she and Graice must make, partly so they can keep him close until they discover his secret. As they travel, Graice tries to help Holder recover his memory. While he is in a drugged sleep, she ‘sees’ into his mind and discovers small fragments of past events, all involving a beautiful golden-haired woman. When he wakes, Holder still does not remember these scenes but Graice gains clues about his identity. The women now know who he is (or was) but do not tell him. He must remember on his own for the recovery to succeed.
In the backwaters of the land meanwhile, a boy age thirteen travels with his aunt (his sole surviving relative) hiding from enemy spies by moving constantly and using false names and disguises. When he complains that he knows nothing about his parents, she reveals his family name and bits of its history. It’s and old and honored lineage. Later, she gives him an amulet and implies he will wear it someday. It’s an Emblem of High Duty, she says. His grandfather and mother had held two of the three High Duties before they died.
A girl named Caelia, also thirteen, hides from the same enemy. She lives with her parents and many other refugees in a cavern where her father searches for secrets of the Anziên people, a civilization which collapsed 3,500 years earlier. Named after a legendary heroine from antiquity, Caelia is unusually bright and mature for her age and her shining red-gold hair sets her apart. Girls with that hair color are born once in a millennium, people say, and everyone in the community loves Caelia. At this point, however, even the girl herself does not know why they do. When she wants to leave the cave on an adventure, everybody objects but no one can say no to her. She gets her way and departs with a trading expedition.
Along their separate paths, Graice and Holder are attacked by a monstrous creature; outlaws kidnap Caelia and drag her into a forest wilderness; and enemy soldiers close in on the boy, causing him to flee for his life. Not only do all survive but the encounters also reveal hidden secrets. The story continues in Return of the High Protector: Part II of the High Duties of Pàçia.
Biography of the Author
When he was a child, Bob Craton’s teachers often remarked (not always favorably) about his day-dreaming. He spent much of his time lost in his own imagination, often creating elaborate elementary school tall-tales, and the habit never went away as he grew up. Coming of age in the 1960s filled his head with dreams of saving the world and having a career in academia. Then the real world closed in. With a family to support, he took a job at the corporate grindstone, just temporarily until he could get back to grad school and earn the PhD he desired. Somehow ‘temporarily’ turned into thirty-three years of stress and boredom but he kept entertaining himself by creating stories inside his head. Interestingly (well, he hopes it’s interesting anyway), his best ideas came to him while he was stuck in rush-hour traffic during his daily commute.
At age fifty-seven, he retired early (a euphemism for ‘got laid off) and had time to put his tales on ‘paper’ (an ancient product now replaced by digital electronics). The ideas in his head were all visual, like scenes from a movie, and as began writing, he learned to translate visual into verbal and improve his skills. Or at least, that’s what he says. He admits that sometimes minor characters – or some who weren’t included in the original plan at all – demand attention. Frequently, he agrees with them and expands their roles. Many people believe he is bonkers for believing that fictional characters talk to him, but he calls it creativity and remains unrepentant.