Cower not, fierce reader! This fine day we are looking at Mr. Niemeier's latest work. And while I'm far from the first to review this work, I've got to throw my two cents in. This will have some spoilers, as I'm going a little more critical than normal.
First, there's the magic system(s). There are two schools here, both of which manipulate various aspects of fate. This manipulation incurs "nemein", a cosmic force which attracts misfortune. The proximity to the author's name leads me to wonder what he may have attempted to bring the life of an author upon himself.
Now, the older group, the Advocates, had a covenant with the gods that would absolve the nemein incurred from their manipulation of the fates. The Arbiters, on the other hand, do not believe in the gods, but instead transfer the nemein into animals called telesma, usually a livestock animal. The Advocates undertake causes for their worthiness, while Arbiters generally do so for monetary reward.
Magic aside, this is an interesting reflection of the two sides of the Biblical role and life of priests. One side, the Advocate, intervenes because it is his duty, and stands between men and the gods for the evil they have caused. The other, the Arbiter, performed sacrifices and other acts on behalf of the people, transferring the punishment for their sin into a sacrifice, usually for some value exchange.
Second, there's a double impetus for this tale. The first is an ancient wrong and revenge, all setup within the Prologue. The other is a pair (one Arbiter, one Advocate) setting out to stop a war which would threaten to reshape the world.
The interesting play is that to some extent, these are bound tightly together. That is, that the first ultimately sets up the more contemporary adventure. I've seen a couple of good authors pull this off in fantasy stories. I don't think I've seen them tied together so well as Brian does here.
There are other socio-political aspects that might interest others more. There's a great amount of politics that one could explore, as well as the sociological implications of the religion fallen out of favor. Essays could be written just off of the richness of these issues, even from the limited view we get of these cases.
I don't know I want Brian to write more in this world, but I want to see him do more fantasy novellas.
9 of 10 fell deeds
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.