Title: Lord of the White Hell: Book One
Author: Ginn Hale
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Length: 353 Pages
At a Glance: In Lord of the White Hell, not only is the world diverse and inclusive, but it’s filled with unbelievable creativity and so much layering of fantastical, magical elements. It’s because of Hale’s gift at layering, creating that feeling of ‘wholeness’, that her books are so engaging.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.
But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.
However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram’s as well.
Review: This is shaping up to be the year where I finally read a bunch of books that have been on my list forever. I dunno how I sat on this particular book for so long, but thank goodness I finally got to it because Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale is an absolute feast. I couldn’t be more stoked to have had the opportunity to read and review this book. As with any of Hale’s stories, once you begin it, you find yourself immediately and completely immersed in the world she has created. I could picture the grounds of the Sagrada Academy, smell the pies that Kiram and Javier stole from the kitchen windowsill, hear the blows and grunts during the battles in the autumn tournament. Every scene is so rich, every character so real and memorable, the sensations and emotions just leap off the page.
Speaking of world building… If you haven’t yet seen the author’s guest post on the blog from earlier this week, definitely go check it out. It is a must, must read. Hale discusses the importance of world building, and the way it affects the reading experience. In Lord of the White Hell, not only is the world diverse and inclusive, but it’s filled with unbelievable creativity and so much layering of fantastical, magical elements. It’s because of Hale’s gift at layering, creating that feeling of ‘wholeness’ she discusses in her post, that her books are so engaging.
Ok. I should probably talk about the book now. Ha!
Kiram Kir-Zaki (I had to put his full name, ‘cause it’s just so cool) is the first full-blooded Haldiim to be invited to attend Academy Sagrada, the illustrious four-year academy attended almost exclusively by Cadeleonian males. Because Kiram is Haldiim, and therefore a religious and cultural outsider, his admittance to the school is frowned upon by many of the students, and even some of the faculty. Because none of the students would be happy rooming with him, they have chosen as Kiram’s roommate an upperclassman mentor, someone else whom no one wants to room with, nobleman Javier Tornesal. Kiram quickly learns that Javier’s family is cursed and that Javier is the current keeper of the White Hell, which resides inside him. This news doesn’t terrify Kiram as it does most others, however, because Haldiim don’t believe in hells.
I love the way Kiram looks at things. He has a great mind for mathematics and logic—he’s considered a teenage genius, mostly because of his gift with mechanisms—and therefore, sees things very differently from the strongly religious and easily spooked Cadeleonians. He and Javier discuss the curse on the Tornesal line at length, often disagreeing on whether it even is a curse, and how it came to haunt them. I loved this, from a discussion about how easy it is for a Cadeleonian to accuse a Haldiim of placing a curse…
“…If it were a trial over a robbery, the judges would at least know what theft was or how it occurred. But no one even tries to question what a curse really is. How does it function? Can one be created by pure chance or does it require will and direction? People hear the words, curse or demon or devil, and they simply throw aside all their powers of logic and reason.”
Kiram’s theory about the white hell, which is purportedly what is actually saving Javier from being killed by the curse, is that it’s really something called a shajdi, a type of gate between the living and the dead. Or, he thinks that Javier at least touched a shajdi at some point, and retained a little of its magic. The origin of the curse and the power of the white hell is the central mystery in these first two books.
Aside from helping Javier, who Kiram obviously grows to care greatly for, the other main reason Kiram wants to solve the mystery of the curse is to help Javier’s cousin, Fedeles, who is terribly plagued by it. Fedeles is such a remarkable character, such a dear and loyal friend to everyone; it hurt my heart to see him in pain and/or constantly frustrated at not being able to truly express himself. Helping Fedeles, dealing with his growing feelings for Javier, and getting through his first year at the academy puts a lot on Kiram’s plate, though. But, luckily, he isn’t on his own, as he originally thought he’d be. He has also made a good friend in Nestor, his classmate and younger brother of Javier’s best friend, Elezar, and has the backing of the rest of the Hellions as well. And, to further help him help Fedeles and Javier, Kiram enlists the aid of his Uncle Rafie and Rafie’s partner, Alizadeh, who are both awesome.
In fact, the characters are all memorable and intriguing, though I’m currently not entirely sure who is trustworthy, and who isn’t! And, the storyline is pure fantasy genius. I’m loving it tons. I’m so glad Ginn Hale decided to give this series a reboot. I hope it does help garner an even wider readership as well as reminding established fans of how fantastic this universe is. I can’t wait to jump into book two! This one ends on a cliffy, guys… So, be ready to dive into the second half of this duology, because, like me, you’ll need to know what happens to Kiram, Javier, Fedeles, and the rest of the Hellions!
You can buy Lord of the White Hell: Book One here: