The War of Lost Hearts: The Story Thus Far…
Ready to jump into Mother of Death and Dawn but feeling like you need a refresher on what’s happened so far in the story? No worries! I, too, have the memory of a goldish.
Let’s jump in to a little refresher on what happened in Daughter of No Worlds. My next post will be a recap of book 2, Children of Fallen Gods.
I hope this goes without saying, but BIG FAT SPOILER WARNING for the first book here! Seriously, if you have not read the book, do not read this.
Our story begins with Tisaanah Vytezic. Tisaanah is a slave in a country called Threll, to a very powerful Lord named Esmaris Mikov. Tisaanah is a type of magic Wielder called a Valtain – who have very internal magic, usually over minds/emotions, water, air. Valtain are typically albino, but Tisaanah is Fragmented, which means that she has patches of albino coloring and patches of tan skin and dark hair. Fragmented Valtain are often considered to be less powerful or valuable, though this is a myth.
Tisaanah is entirely self-taught, which means her grasp on magic is not as strong as it could be, and she primarily uses her magic to sense the emotions of other people.
For many years, Tisaanah has been working tirelessly towards buying her freedom. Once free, she intends to travel across the sea to Ara and join the Orders, a powerful organization of magic Wielders. Tisaanah all about them from an Aran Valtain traveler who would often stay with Esmaris Mikov during his visits, Zeryth Aldris.
On one fateful day, Tisaanah at last reaches her goal of earning one thousand gold coins. However, when she presents the money to Esmaris, he is furious. He never expected her to meet his absurd price, and is furious that she would even try. He whips Tisaanah severely in punishment, and as Tisaanah watches her dreams crumble, she realizes that he will not stop until he beats her to death.
In a wild surge of fury, Tisaanah lashes out at Esmaris with her magic, and accidentally kills him.
Uh oh. Now what?
Tisaanah’s best friend, Serel, who is one of Esmaris’s favorite guards, rushes in when he hears the commotion. Tisaanah is horrifically injured, her back in tatters. Serel stages a murder scene and helps Tisaanah to the stables, telling her to flee, but refuses to leave with her no matter how much she begs him to come. His absence would be noticed too quickly, he says, and if he stays behind, he can spin a different story to cover for her.
Reluctantly, Tisaanah leaves. She is determined to make it to Ara, join the Orders, and use their power and influence to get back to Threll, save Serel, and end slavery.
She’s so badly injured that she barely makes it to Ara alive, and collapses unconscious at the foot of the Towers, the headquarters of the Orders.
Upon awaking, is greeted by Nura Qan – a Valtain who is second to the Arch Commandant, making her the second most powerful person in the Orders. Nura tells Tisaanah that she cannot join the Orders until she has completed an apprenticeship, and there is only one option that remains for an instructor.
Enter our hero, Maxantarius
Nura takes Tisaanah to a cottage in the middle of a sprawling garden, where she meets Maxantarius Farlione– or Max, please and thank you. Max is a Solarie, not a Valtain – a different type of Magic Wielder who tend to work more externally and have an affinity for external energy, fire, and earth. Max absolutely outright refuses to train Tisaanah, but Nura tells him he doesn’t have a choice and leaves Tisaanah there anyway.
Tisaanah has four months to train for the Orders’ annual evaluations and prove that she has accomplished enough to be admitted for membership.
Tisaanah stubbornly sits outside Max’s door until it gets so cold that he lets her inside. He allows her to stay, but still refuses to train her. During this period, Tisaanah meets Max’s very-smooth best friend Sammerin and his explosively disaster-prone apprentice Moth.
Eventually, Tisaanah blows up at Max, frustrated by his snarky unhelpfulness. When Max realizes the nature of Tisaanah’s past and her reasons for wanting to join the Orders, he softens and agrees to train her.
What else is going on in Ara? Well, there’s war a-brewin’
Max reveals that he was considered responsible for the crown’s victory at Sarlazai, a brutal victory that left many civilians dead. He also reveals that Ryvenai rebels killed his entire family in an act of retaliation for his father’s loyalist stance.
As tensions rise, Nura asks Tisaanah to fight against a rebellious Lord. Tisaanah agrees, which makes Max furious. The battle is brutal, and Tisaanah witnesses the horror of warfare firsthand, but her bond with Max strengthens significantly.
It’s evaluation time!
Weeks later, time has come for Tisaanah’s evaluations. She passes the first test easily, but is then given a second, one-on-one evaluation against Nura personally. During this test, Zeryth Aldris surprises her. Tisaanah narrowly wins, but Max is furious at Zeryth and Nura for giving Tisaanah such a ridiculously difficult test.
After the evaluation, Zeryth tells Tisaanah that he was not able to find Serel, but that he did go to Esmaris’s estate and brought back another of Tisaanah’s fellow slaves, Vos, who had been badly beaten and disfigured by Esmaris’s son Ahzeen. Vos blames Tisaanah for his fate, and tells her that he named Serel as complicit in Esmaris’s murder.
Tisaanah, desperate to get back to Threll, pleads for help, but Zeryth refuses.
Furious, Tisaanah attends the Orders’ annual ball wearing a backless dress that shows off all her scars, telling anyone who will listen about the brutality of the Threllian Lords. That night, she and Max dance, and she realizes that she is starting to fall for him.
A deal she can’t refuse.
The next day, Tisaanah is summoned to the Towers. On the steps, Max seems to have some an epiphany and begs Tisaanah not to go – but still refuses to tell her why. Tisaanah, knowing that two people could never do alone what she needed to do, still goes to the meeting.
Zeryth and Nura want Tisaanah to wield a very particular weapon and have been testing her all along for her ability to do this. They also reveal that this is why they had Max train her – because he was the last person to successfully wield this weapon. Tisaanah demands a Blood Pact: she will be their weapon, if they will immediately go to Threll now to help her friends at the Mikov estate, and then go to Threll again after their war is over.
The weapon is a sentient being named Reshaye that occupies Tisaanah’s mind. Reshaye shows Tisaanah visions from its past and its time with Max. During this time, Tisaanah sees a vision of what truly happened in Sarlazai – that Nura used her mind magic to force Max’s mental walls down and let Reshaye free, who unleashed destruction across the city. She also sees the truth of what happened to Max’s family – that Reshaye, in a possessive rage, murdered them using Max’s body.
When Tisaanah wakes up, Max has returned, having realized that he can’t bring himself to leave Tisaanah to do this alone.
At last, Threll.
As soon as Tisaanah is well enough, they depart to Threll. Sammerin, Nura, Zeryth, and two Syrizen – eyeless guards who have unique magical abilities – go with them.
As they travel to the Esmaris’s estate, they come across slavers and decide to intervene. Tisaanah gives herself over to Reshaye and loses control. They rescue the captives and kill the slavers, but in the ensuing collapse of the building, an innocent teenage boy is killed.
That night, Tisaanah and Max open up to each other. Max tells her about how, during the darkest time of his life, he stumbled into a café that was showcasing paintings of the artist’s wife. He said that they were terrible, but the obvious love and joy in them moved him deeply, especially since they were dated to the same day that his family died – it was a reminder that such joy and love existed, even in the same moments as horrible things. Tisaanah tells him that he can’t give up on his journey either, and – finally! – they make love.
But the next morning, after Max leaves, Reshaye realizes what happened between Max and Tisaanah and flies into a jealous rage. It disappears, leaving Tisaanah without its power.
That day, Zeryth also announces that he will be returning to Ara, leaving Tisaanah, Nura, and the Syrizen to go to the Esmaris estate to confront Ahzeen by themselves. He does, however, present Tisaanah with an invitation he had received to a part of powerful Threllians thrown by Ahzeen Mikov.
But don’t worry, they have a plan!
Tisaanah, Max, Sammerin, and Nura attend the party. But after the initial toasts, Tisaanah reveals her old dancing costume and makes a spectacle for Ahzeen. Meanwhile, during this distraction, the Syrizen – whose unique magical properties allow them to move past the wards – are taking slaves from the estate one by one.
But then, they realize that during the toast, Ahzeen drugged them with Chryxalis, a rare drug that cuts off a Wielder from their magic. Max, Sammerin, and Nura are taken into captivity.
Ahzeen takes Tisaanah to his office to whip her. Tisaanah knows that Resahye draws from very deep magic, perhaps deep enough that it can circumvent the effects of the Chryxalis. She calls upon Resahye and turns herself over to it completely, killing Ahzeen and once again losing control.
Meanwhile, Max, Nura, and Sammerin manage to escape their captors. Max knows that Reshaye is losing control. He tells Nura to take Sammerin and get the slaves out, then goes back for Tisaanah.
How is he going to be of any use at all under Chryxalis, you ask? Great question! Plot twist time: Max opens his second eyelids (yeah, he has those!), and turns into a serpent of pure fire.
Max goes back to the ballroom and tries desperately to stop Reshaye. He kisses Tisaanah and pleads with her to come back.
Tisaanah has been thrust into the back of her mind, unable to seize control of her own body. In a desperate bid for control, she lets herself fall all the way down into the back of her mind, and fall all the way into the lowest levels of her magic. This place looks like a desert with a star-scattered sky. There, she sees a faceless figure that she knows, somehow, is Reshaye – but a more innocent, helpless version of it. It tells Tisaanah that it is more than the rageful version of it that she knows, offering its heart to her. Tisaanah takes the heart and opens herself up to it, accepting Reshaye’s core power, and in doing so, seizing control of her own body again.
She and Max collapse together. With her final connection to Reshaye’s power, she draws a Stratagram to bring her, Max, and all the slaves outside the estate’s walls.
Yikes, intense. Now what?
When everyone is conscious again, Max explains to Tisaanah that his second eyelids and his mysterious volatile magic became a part of him when Reshaye was ripped out of his mind, as a gruesome “parting gift” of sorts – but that he had never been able to bring himself to use that power, because he so resented how he got it.
Plus, Serel is alive, horray! Tisaanah also learned that the Orders essentially bought the Mikov estate, now that Esmaris and his son are dead.
Now, Max, Tisaanah, Sammerin, Nura, and Serel, and the former Threllian slaves are on their way back to Ara. Tisaanah now must go fight the war she promised to the Orders.
And that brings us to… book 2, Children of Fallen Gods! Check out the recap here.