I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. First Steps is the debut novel of Luke Daher, an Australian author with a simple dream. Through conversations with the Luke Daher and my own personal reading experience, First Steps is riddled with influence from the Wheel of Time and the writings of Robert Jordan. Luke has even stated that the Wheel of Time is his favorite series in any medium today and it shows. This debut novel has not reached the main stream SFF community as of today, but the substance, characters, and prose of the author will make the most die hard reader feel lost in a sea of antiquity and a walk down memory lane.
First Steps is a story of characters going down dangerous paths to reach their goals, but the paths they choose may not bring them to their desired destinations. Although we follow several different characters in this novel, the two main POV’s are from opposite sides of the conflict. Normyn grew up on a farm and was destined to accomplish great deeds. Training in his village as a child, he became an expert in the ways of combat and sword play. Tragedy strikes his home town and now as an adult, he has survivors guilt and travels the country as a vagrant unwilling to get attached to anyone ever again. Eventually he comes into contact with a boy and he reluctantly takes him under his wing to train in the ways of the world, but the world are not always what they seem. Xylia is an artist with the propensity for creating Songs with her flute. She decides to enter the competition to become the champion of her God Imatel and obtain her ultimate desire. Xylia is a descendent from an ancient race that was blessed by the Gods. They are encouraged by the Gods to seek perfection in all forms of life and Xylia must accomplish this task at all cost. Her pride and determination become both her greatest strength and also her greatest weakness. the desire for perfection will lead he down a dark path with no return.
There is magic in this story that are portrayed in a variety of ways such as: cards, inner power, and symbols but it is subjective to the wielder. Luke Daher does an amazing job slowly unveiling this aspect throughout the narrative, but his greatest accolade is his prose. Throughout my entire experience of reading SFF books I have only come across a handful of authors whom can write prose that flow and are expressed as if the author was writing poetry. Those authors are: Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, and to a lesser degree Scott Lynch. I can easily put Luke Daher in this class but I feel that his work may not be quite as polished, but the potential and insight are there. Let me share with you one of my favorite paragraphs from First Steps:
“So she played, her eyes closed to the word, her ears open. The Songs she was Blessed with hearing slowly swelled in the background without drowning out her own music. The world was a different place when they were clearly audible, revealing a depth that was otherwise ignored and unnoticed. She could only pity those too deaf to hear them. Without pause, she changed the melody produced from her flute, mimicking the Song of the garden. The Songs heard in the soft trickle of the stream and the gentle rustle of a leaf kissed by the wind. The music representing the delicate beauty of the sensi tree. She blended them all into one sweeping Song, imitating as best she could to create a duet between her and her surroundings. But faithful replication was impossible, the scale of her flute too limited, her own craft inadequate. The Songs were true perfection, the touch of Imatel’s Thought on the land. A perfection far beyond the reach of a mortal, resting in the hands of the Divine only.”
It was from this point forward that I was in complete awe of Luke Daher’s writing style and I couldn’t get enough of it. His words can be a bit descriptive and this type of writing will not appeal to everyone. I am generally not a reader who has prose on the top of my list as important in a literary work. That being said, I will praise it to the moon when I see it performed at a top level. Readers who are big fans of Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, and Tad Williams, will immensely enjoy First Steps. I look forward to continuing with this series and hope you will join me down these paths.