The Lockwith Chronicles #1: Pillars of the Mortal Monarchies by Ryan London

★★★★  Pillars of the Mortal Monarchies, the first book in the Lockwith Chronicles series, opens with the fall of thousands of Tova Dolan demigods brought on by the demise of their creator, Asien the Destroyer. A new leader, the Great All Devourer comes to the Tova Dolans’ aid and is the last hope for the demigods to find prosperity and a place among the stars. Under the Great All Devourer’s leadership, the Tova Dolan are directed to collect the genetic signatures of fallen immortals with which to create new, powerful gods. To accomplish this, the Tova Dolan approach the network of Monarchial Columns in order to raid the Columns’ tombs for the divine genes they so badly need. This sudden attack forces the mortals of the Monarchial Columns to come together to ward off the Tova Dolan and try to maintain their power over the wicked demigods.

Pillars of the Mortal Monarchies takes readers deep inside an elaborate universe, with an impressive web of characters, dramatic tension, and unearthly powers. There is no introduction to ease the reader into the intricate world the author has created, and it’s possible that some readers might find this off-putting. As for the writing itself, the author’s strikingly eloquent voice throughout gives a notable literary quality that’s not always present in science fiction entries. For example, a passage describing ships approaching is hauntingly beautiful: “It was like watching a slow procession of dust motes drift across a sunlit room, only in front of the back drop of thousands of stars, gaseous nebulas, and nearby moons. It was as if the ships were the universe, and everything else was just passing through.” Such lyrical writing combined with an imaginative and fascinating plot makes Pillars of the Moral Monarchies a real delight.