In some ways the storyline's premise becomes more intriguing as the plot continues. The charting of Irona 700's life is filled with flashes of brilliance, personal disappointments, hard slog, politicking and degenerate wars.
Irona Matrinko, daughter of a fisherman, is chosen at an annual ceremony at the city of Benign, by the blind goddess Caprice. She becomes Chosen, Irona 700.A major question must be what part do the gods really play? Where does freedom of choice enter the equation? Is Irona chosen by the goddess or by chance and in this case can the two be really separated? After all look at the goddess' name!
'Caprice was patron of the city, goddess of the sea, of chance, and the only divinity ever shown in human form. Caprice was worshiped. Most of the others were feared. Maleficence [is] God of evil.'
Fitting into what turns out to be the top strata of society that is adept at politicking, moving up the rung of success by bribery, favours and sometimes villainy, it soon becomes apparent that to just survive Irona must learn the rules fast.
Challenges are thrown in front of Irona and it seems Caprice (if one holds to her influence) just might have something in store for Irona.
The disappearance of Irona's lover and father of her child is a dark mystery, one that certainly made Irona and made me wonder what really happened at Vult. The more I read, the more questions surround the presence of the enemy Maleficence. The suppositions become reality. Vult is a fortress, all that stands between the minions of Maleficience, 'the shapeless', and the Empire.
Irona constantly sacrifices compassion for expediency it seems, all the time for the benefit of the governing of the Empire and inherent with that, her own path. She makes hard choices, impossible choices and they eat away at her.
Irona brings to being a Chosen her childhood knowledge of a life outside the Empire, of the way of the sea, a life that knows about hardship and struggles and the ability to fight.
Again was her being Chosen the work of the goddess Caprice, blind luck, or the more prosaic explanation of a bribe gone wrong--an accident of the moment?
The repugnance of the creatures that surround Vult and the chaos of Maleficence is not to be disregarded. This made for unpleasant responses being as it were, drawn into that level of degenerateness. It definitely was not enchanting.
I am unsure as to whether I actually enjoyed Irona 700 it but it certainly was in many aspects, food for thought.
A NetGalley ARC