The protagonist, Dallet, is a student of religion with no skills in battle. He is charged with delivering a Codex, a sacred religious book with powers for those who read it, to the Brass Gates. On his way his caravan is attacked and (spoiler alert if you haven't looked at the cover of the book) he is taken as a slave to a drakin, named Torak, a half dragon, half human. This brutal drakin is trained for battle only and keeps Dallet alive for the status he will gain by having a slave.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It is well written. For example, I loved how Stein describes the sun, at the beginning of the novel, working its way across the sky, finish its day of work etc. Small details like this make it a unique and interesting experience to read this book. I was actually a little sad that the book didn't end with the sun taking a break after a long day of work.
I also like how there are multiple societies, races, religions in the world Stein has created. This gives a more real feeling to the entire story. As we discover the Drakin culture through Dallet we learn it as he does, so it doesn't slow down the story telling, but gives the reader information as needed.
I love to see character growth in a novel and we get that with Dallet. He is not your typical protagonist and we see his weaknesses as he bends to the will of his master. This gives him room to grow, and also makes him a character with depth, which is great to see. On the other hand we also see Torak, his drakin master, change a little as time progresses, but it is not as obvious as it is all from Dallet's POV.
In a book I love a good solid ending. This has that! It hints at what is to come, but gives us a good solid story with beginning, middle and end. When we reach the final pages of the book, it feels like we have come to the end of one journey, but there are future journeys ahead which sound pretty exciting!
I would recommend this book to high school aged or older. I think they would appreciate the complex world Stein has created more than younger readers, the violence/threats of violence might be a little much for younger readers, and there are also occasional mentions of sexual encounters although it is done very tastefully, and never in detail (example: It mentions that one woman visited a different tent each night on their caravan travels), for some younger readers it might go over their heads, but I think it is targeted at the older range of Young Adult.
I was given a copy of this book by publisher for review.
Codex of Light Book Description
Long ago, the Silver Empire brought an end to the Kingdom of Lumin, and drove the Lumineans from their high city of Tashavet. Still true to their traditions however, the Lumineans have not been undone. They live among the Dan’din of the new Imperial Commonwealth, keeping hidden the few, precious codices which hold the secrets to the powers of the Divine.
Young Dallet has been studying his whole life to become a cleric of the Divine, and dreams of one day marrying his childhood sweetheart and taking over the care of the Luminean Shrine in his small town of Zelf. In order to be initiated on this path he will need to read one of the ancient codices under the guidance of an experienced cleric. It is an honor, although a surprise, when he is tasked with transporting one such codex across the Bereaved Desert to the capital city of Brass Gates. The journey will prove to be treacherous, and Dallet’s oath to protect the Codex of Light, even unto death, will prove to be a challenge that tests all of the values Dallet has ever held to be sacred.