Diondray’s Discovery, by Marion Hill
My review: ★★★
This book has a sci-fi “feel” to it, but it could really happen on Earth today. Its setting is the land of Kammbia, where Diondray lives in the city of Charlesville. Diondray is the presumed heir to rule Charlesville after his oppressive uncle Xavier. The story becomes a religious and political intrigue, when Diondray learns a long-held family secret about the history of their bloodline. The secret is entangled with the written history of a prophet figure in the religion of a different region of Kammbia. Diondray ends up immersing himself in this foreign religion during his journey to discover the truth about why these facts were kept secret.
This sets up an interesting way to explore religious concepts without overtly challenging any current-day religions in the real world. During his quest for truth, Diondray repeatedly questions the religious demands of conformity and obedience, which hold that only those who adhere to the conventions of a religion are deemed worthy. The overall conversation doesn’t go into much depth, however, and is mainly left with the answer that it makes the devout happy to be able to conform and obey. I found myself wishing that the conversation had been more complete on both sides, as it didn’t feel very illuminating to me.
Overall, the story is a walk through some interesting settings and some detail on the characters as well as the cultures in those places. It concludes with the story being set up for more journeys in the following books. There’s also a potential for a little bit of romance in the next books. Most of what held my interest was the development of the characters and culture, plus curiosity over the mysteries Diondray is investigating. I find myself interested in knowing the conclusion from the next two books. This book was really just setting up the stage for what comes next.
One thing that didn’t entirely sit right with me is that everyone (including Diondray) so readily accepts that Diondray is the chosen one who will fulfil a religious prophecy. I had to accept this in order to go on and enjoy the story. Diondray is also very passive, allowing himself to be led around most places instead of taking an active role driving for answers or making changes. This is not a major part of the story, but I also don’t like Diondray’s best friend’s attitude toward women, pinching their butts and refusing to stay with any woman for very long. His attitude comes off as treating women like property, which is a bit tone-deaf in today’s world.