Today I’m revisiting and reviewing The World Maker Parable by Luke Tarzian, the first book in the Adjacent Monsters series and a prequel novella to his fantastic novel Vultures (Review). With The World Breaker Requiem on the horizon – due for release on the 21st of December for anyone looking for a lovely, dark Christmas present for themselves – I wanted to return to the first book, and once again I found myself loving it even more on the reread.
Guilt will always call you back…
Rhona is a faithful servant of the country Jémoon and a woman in love. Everything changes when her beloved sets the ravenous Vulture goddess loose upon the land. Forced to execute the woman she loves for committing treason, Rhona discovers a profound correlation between morality and truth. A connection that might save her people or annihilate them all.
You are a lie…
Varésh Lúm-talé is many things, most of all a genocidal liar. A falsity searching for the Phoenix goddess whom he believes can help him rectify his atrocities. Such an undertaking is an arduous one for a man with missing memories and a conscience set on rending him from inside out. A man whose journey leads to Hang-Dead Forest and a meeting with a Vulture goddess who is not entirely as she seems.
‘The night is cold and your blood runs hot with anticipation…”
I think this is the perfect sentence, to sum up, the feeling of reading a Tarzian book – anticipation here, being that sweeping feeling in the pit of your stomach as you launch yourself into the unknown (or the semi-known… depending if you’ve read Vultures or not). Excitement. Expectation. Fear. Curiosity. A multitude of emotions, and yet nothing compared to how you will feel at the end of the book, because Tarzian weaves stories with the full rawness of human experience, and in such a way that you can’t help but feel it all.
I won’t say much about the plot here in this review, because both because of the length and the nature of the tale of itself, you need to read it for yourself to truly appreciate the mastery at work here. Also, because it is so intricately crafted, each detail and layer is as finely balanced as the many dualities this book explores, that it would be impossible to capture the full power of what is done within these pages. What I will say is that The World Maker Parable is a book that demands your attention. It’s like following a twisting path through a rolling fog, and if you look away for a moment or venture off the path that is being laid at your fate, you will end up lost. It also demands it from the very beginning, and it’s an exercise in trust. Tarzian doesn’t hold our hand or tell us everything, instead, he pushes us into the fog and trusts us to find that path. It’s a gamble, but one that pays off in the most delightful way.
“Parable.” She held out a trembling, upturned palm. “This is what you meant when I met you as Mother Woe.” Tears dripped down her cheeks. “My story, my existence…”
Parable. A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson (Oxford Dictionary). I would argue that there are multiple lessons within these pages, parables within parables. Or, perhaps it should be that there are multiple truths within each parable. I would certainly say there is nothing simple about this story, indeed, there is a delicious complexity to everything within The World Breaker Parable – so much for the reader to sink their teeth into, and really I feel that is what a parable needs to be. Humanity regardless of what form it takes in the characters is messy. Emotions are complex and weave a tangled web. How can a lesson be learned if it doesn’t reflect that complexity? That is why this book, this parable, works so well. Why it demands your attention, and why it resonates and lingers long beyond the reading because Tarzian has gathered mirror shards or should that be Shadow Twins to reflect on everything – big and small – the subtle moments, the little choices, as well as the grand, sweeping moments of change.
“An apology…Were I you, I too would say the same but expressed regret for your atrocities bears little weight a century and a half into ruin. Apologies will not remake the world. Apologies will not bring back the dead, nor will they mend my wounds.”
You will FEEL this book. You will lose yourself in it.
You will be consumed.
And you will find yourself asking questions, even if you are not entirely sure you want the answers.
We are guided through the maze of cracked psyches and minds, of emotions given voice and form. It is on one level trippy, especially as the story is told through the past and present, alternating between the two as though one was just a shadow of the other. And with the prevalence of guilt and regret and grief, that seems fairly accurate. It works well though, allowing us to see the cracking and the fallout, and the search for truth within the lies, the need for redemption – and the impossibility of it, at least in some eyes. On another level, and for many of the same reasons it is deeply profound. Dark fantasy can often brush against these different elements, but what makes the World Maker Parable stand out is that Tarzian has made an art form out of it – and if psychological fantasy isn’t a subgenre it should be, and this book would be at the forefront of it and thoroughly deserves to be.
As with the plot, I don’t want to say too much about the characters. However, I want to mention them, because Tarzian does so much with them within the pages of this book, and how he carves humanity out of the divine. They are also so vividly, beautifully described – an otherworldly quality in a story that treads the boundaries between reality and dreams, and the imagery adds another wonderful element to the story.
‘It was there the Phoenix stood, garbed in whites and golds that fell to gossamer threads of mist. Her great wings were furled about her like a cloak and her hair fell in loose, dark curls.’
If I wasn’t already in love with this book, the prose is would seal the deal, it’s stunning and haunting in equal measure, and I have happily come to the conclusion that I will never get tired of reading Tarzian’s writing. It is lyrical and emotive, with an ethereal quality that matches the characters and use of dreams, and yet at the same time, it is so clear and easy to imagine and feel what he is bringing to life – both the wonder and the horror that is captured between the pages. Because, while there is beauty and moments of calm and solace and a subtle thread of hope, this book is dark. It’s not blood and gore and violence, although death and punishment are key themes throughout, but it is a slow, splintering of self and descent into the places lurking between the cracks in the mind. Most people know that horrors can lurk in the mind – dark thoughts, nightmares, guilt and lies – and Tarzian has tapped into that and given it life.
The World Maker Parable is a perfect example of just how beautiful the darkness can be. This is not a light or easy read, and it shouldn’t be. However, the effort to follow the story that Tarzian weaves, and the courage to brave that haunting, bleakly beautiful darkness, is more than rewarded by what you will find within the pages of this book. Now is also the perfect time to dive into this series, because the second book – The World Breaker Reqiuem is coming in December.
Preorder Links for The World Breaker Requiem (Adjacent Monsters #2)
Prince of Woe…
Avaria Norrith is the adopted heir to the Ariathan throne. But that means little to a man who, for the better part of fifteen years, has sought and failed to earn his mother’s love. Fueled by pride and envy, Avaria seeks the means to prove himself and cast away his mental chains. When he’s tasked with the recreation of The Raven’s Rage he sees his chance, for with the infamous blade he can rewrite history and start anew.
Daughter of the Mountain…
Erath has not felt sunlight for a century. Not since Ariath condemned her people to a life of darkness with their misuse of The Raven’s Rage. But when an old friend comes seeking the remnants of the ancient sword, Erath cannot contain her curiosity and resolves to lend her aid. Is it true—can history be revised? Can her people be reclaimed?
Toll the Hounds…
They are hungry—and they are here.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.