Reviewed by Donna
SERIES REVIEW: The Oracle
AUTHOR: Mell Eight
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
BOOK #1 TITLE: The Oracle’s Flame
LENGTH: 64 Pages
The Kingdom of Altnoia is on the cusp of civil war. The king and heir have been murdered, the throne taken by their uncle, and the kingdom’s only hope lies with Prince Edan who has been missing for the past year. The Oracle appoints her new Dragon of Fire one task: Find Prince Edan and keep him alive.
It should have been a simple task, but Dragon did not anticipate that Prince Edan would hide away on a pirate ship, forcing Dragon not only to endure pirates, but sea-sickness and his fear of water. And nothing, not even the Oracle, could have prepared him for the twins and the complicated feelings they spark.
Dragon is new to the top job in his fire caste as the Dragon of Fire. He’s young and inexperienced but when the Oracle commands him to find the missing prince of Altnoia and keep him alive, Dragon heads out to sea to do just that. Unfortunately water and the fire caste do not mix and poor Dragon finds himself having to battle sea sickness, hide from rain storms and deal with marauding pirate crews. Dragon ends up working on a pirate ship where he knows the prince is hiding somewhere amongst the crew. But perhaps more importantly to Dragon he meets twins Shev and Shov, who awaken desire in Dragon for the first time.
I loved the way this first book in the series started, with a history of the kingdom of Altnoia. I could practically hear the voice-over narrator as though I was watching the beginning of a fantasy movie. James Earl Jones would have nailed it. From there we see what the Oracle sees as she sorts through all possible futures for Altnoia, searching for just one that doesn’t end in the downfall of everything she is sworn to protect. When she finds that one slim chance for good to prevail she sends out her Dragon and waits, and watches.
This beginning drew me in immediately. I loved knowing what the Oracle foresaw and I loved watching the awkward young Dragon become the Dragon of her vision. The plot itself was interesting with pirates and dragons and missing princes but it’s the world that the author created that kept me hooked. From the lava flows beneath the monastery to the galley of the pirate ship I could envision perfectly the world that Dragon was inhabiting. But it wasn’t just the settings that were detailed. I became immersed in understanding the castes and how they worked and served the Oracle. I wished I could touch the tattoos on their backs because they fully captured my interest.
In some ways the romance side of this story was unimportant but I’m never one to turn my nose up at a romance. It definitely wasn’t the main focus of the story, and don’t expect a lot of delicious twincest-menage-sexytimes. Actually, the book is fairly non-explicit. Even readers who have an issue with twincest may enjoy this one.
The ending left me desperate to know what happens next, although I do like the idea that the next part of this ongoing story is told through different eyes.
BOOK #2 TITLE: The Oracle’s Hatchling
LENGTH: 67 Pages
Ling is hated because his birth killed his mother. He hopes that testing will ease his troubles—either his rank will be so low that everyone forgets about him, or it will be so high they’ll be forced to respect him. What he doesn’t expect is to walk out of the testing chamber with an egg emblazoned on his back. Laughed out of the Monastery, Ling hides himself in Altnoia, where he becomes embroiled in a plot to overthrow King Edan and the Oracle who supports him.
The ringleader behind the plot is Prince Damarion, son of the evil despot who forced King Edan to flee in the first place—but his motives are not anything that Ling could have anticipated. Neither could he anticipate a friendship, or what that friendship could become, and the choices it would force him to make.
Ling is the most disliked and ridiculed person who lives at the monastery. His birth was the cause of the former Oracle’s death and despite the fact that Ling was just an innocent baby, the rest of the monastery’s occupants still blame the young man today. Ling is finally old enough to enter the testing chamber and sees this as his only chance to end the disapproval he’s forced to live with. He’ll test into a caste and either be forgotten or respected should he rank high enough. When he emerges tattooed with a giant cracked egg, the Oracle encourages him to run from the monastery and take refuge in Altnoia where King Edan now rules.
Working in the castle kitchens, Ling encounters Prince Damarion, who has been hiding away in his rooms beneath the castle since his evil father lost the crown. Ling feels an instant kinship with the angry young prince, who understands what it’s like to be reviled for something that wasn’t his fault. When Damarion confides in Ling that a treasonous plot is brewing, Ling realizes just how much he’s come to care for Rion.
The Oracle’s Hatchling takes place six years after the events in the first book. Prince Edan has long won back his crown and I was definitely disappointed that we didn’t get to see that happen. However, there was still a battle and for some reason it struck me as odd that the men were fighting with guns. Not odd, bad. I actually enjoyed it. When I think dragons and castles and pirates, I think sword fights so it seemed somewhat novel that they were having a gunfight instead. Yes, I know pirates had guns but it just struck me as something worth mentioning that I liked.
The pranks that Rion and Ling began playing on the court were also fun to read. It just added a bit of lightness to the plot, not that it was in anyway heavy or dark but it allowed me to see a different side to two characters that are rather solemn. It also brought the characters from the first book into this story some more, which is always a bonus in my opinion.
BOOK #3 TITLE: The Oracle’s Golem
LENGTH: 61 Pages
Golem has never known anything but pain. He exists solely to serve the Oracle’s whims and needs. Determined to escape a life of abuse and servitude, he runs away and finds refuge in a cave.
Then one day a child falls asleep in his lap …
Marl isn’t anyone special. He’s low in the Earth Caste, set to watch over the Caste’s problem child, Lichen. In search of the errant Lichen one day, he unexpectedly comes across Golem hiding deep in the mountains. Even more surprising is the reason that Golem is hiding, a reason that forces Marl to make a choice: Oracle or Golem
This was my favourite story in the series so far!
Once again the story begins with the Oracle searching through possible futures and deciding which one to choose. This time the future belongs to the Dragon of Earth and she’s forced to make a decision that will mean pain and despair for the Dragon but offer the greatest outcome for the rest of the kingdom that she’s sworn to protect. This third story begins in the past and the future the Oracle sets in motion begins with her seducing her Earth Dragon and creating Ling, the scorned main character from the second story. When the Oracle dies from complications from birthing their son, the Dragon of Earth disappears into the mountain that houses the Oracle’s monastery. He intends to stay there until he dies but the earth won’t allow that and turns him to stone to preserve him until he is ready to reawaken. And fifteen years later, he does.
Marl is as low as one can possibly get in the Earth caste. While everybody else has at least a single tree tattooed on their back, Marl has nothing but a brown barren field from top to bottom. He spends his days working with the plants in the fields and looking after the endlessly curious four-year-old, Lichen. One of Lichen’s adventures finds the two of them deep within the earth, where they awaken a half man, half stone creature who calls himself Golem.
This was the first of the Oracle stories that’s told in the point of view of both main characters. Actually, now that I’ve written that I’m not a hundred percent certain that’s correct, but if the previous two books did also have a split point of view then it wasn’t anything to note. Those previous books really did just have the one main character plus a love interest. Or interests, as the case may be. The Oracle’s Golem had both men very present throughout. They each had their own story which of course, came together perfectly for romance to bloom.
I loved that this story was set at the monastery rather than out in the world, so we got to learn a lot more about how the castes worked. We learned more about the tattoos, which I’ve been kind of fascinated with from the very beginning. Also, the Oracle was more present in this book than the others. I liked having the chance to know her as a flawed “real” person rather than just some sort of omnipotent deity.
I’ve never been a fan of the fantasy genre. In all honesty, the only reason I decided to read these books was because I just cannot, truly cannot, pass up a twincest story. And then there wasn’t even any lurid kinky sex involved. But I’m not at all disappointed that I read the series. I don’t know if I’m ever going to venture into other fantasy series but the next Oracle book is out in September and I’ve already added it to my wish list.