Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Review: 'Beyond the Code' by Kelsey Rae Barthel

Canadian author Kelsey Rae Barthel has worked in the business of airline cargo in Edmonton and now is following her love of tales of adventure and magic by publishing BEYOND THE CODE– her debut novel.

As an introduction to both Kelsey’s style of writing and a prelude to her story in this novel she provides a tasty prologue: ‘Time is the unstoppable force that will eventually overrun the great civilizations of man. Time can take a proud history of an entire people and turn it to nothing more than fanciful legends. Mere stories that are far from the mind’s ability to believe. Or it will leave the truth to be forgotten entirely. Some try to fight against this enemy by recording their history in books or recalling the grand tales of their heroes, but their efforts always fall to time’s relentless march. Those in the present are at the mercy of those who tell the tale. No concrete evidence exists on the origins of our Knighthood or the Order of which we were bound to. We only have the stories we were told by the ones we shouldn’t have trusted. It is said that long ago, before the world’s borders were drawn and cities were built to reach the sky, people with extraordinary abilities roamed the land, searching for purpose and belonging. Those gifted individuals could call lightning from the sky, move mountains with a thought, and even heal the sick or wounded with a touch. Despite their almost godlike powers, their hearts and minds were still very much human. Thus, they had the potential for great good or profound evil. Some would journey the lands, bringing miracles to those in need while others would use their powers for their own selfish gain. Despite the varying intentions of these gifted people, tales of the immense power they could wield spread far and wide. Kingdoms waged horrible wars to try and gain that power for glory and conquest. This deep impact to the lands and its people followed the gifted ones wherever they laid their feet. They became the harbingers of misfortune by mere birthright. With their very existence poisoned by fear and their people scattered to the winds, the gifted ones needed something to bring them together and keep them safe. Their hopes and prayers were answered when a brave warrior appeared with powers that rivaled every one of the gifted. He traveled the world and gathered the gifted ones under his leadership, providing safety for the tormented and order for the ones driven wild by their greed. He gave them all the purpose and belonging they always knew they needed, and for that, the gifted ones made him their king. For the good of his people and the mundane world, the king decided to hide them away from the rest of the people in the land. With the help of some trusted and influential lords and ladies, the king was able to cover the existence of the gifted ones in a shroud of secrecy. Over time, the knowledge of the gifted ones fell into obscurity and, eventually, became nothing but an unbelievable legend. But the king was too wise to know they couldn’t completely cut themselves off from humanity forever. To help build a bridge between the gifted ones and the mundane humans, the king pledged some of the strongest of his people to the lords and ladies who helped hide them from the world. They served these people from the shadows as their Knights under the strict laws laid down by their king. This structure became the unquestionable Order all the gifted ones followed. This Code is something I can never forget. As a Knight, these rules are engraved into our minds. This is a necessity, for the consequences of breaking the Code are severe, and all Knights are fearful of the punishment.’

Kelsey offers an inviting summary of her novel – ‘To the common world, Aurora Falon is merely the pampered daughter of a rich and influential family. But to the secret world of The Order, she is Luna, the powerful and formidable warrior knight, under the rule of her master, Cole Iver. Together, they strive to bring down Damon Lexus, a wicked master who uses her knights in cowardly and dishonourable ways for her own selfish desires. But when they obtain evidence that may bring Damon Lexus under the judgement of The Order's ruling power, The Hand Council, Damon makes a rash decision and orders the assassination of Cole Iver. By pure coincidence, Luna catches Damon’s knight in the act but is too late to save her master and kills the assassin in a moment of grief stricken rage. Luna knows the one with her master’s blood on her hands is not the one she killed, she seeks the assassin's master. But after a failed attempt at revenge, Luna is pulled from the depths of her dark anger and put on a better path by the Hunter who was ordered to kill her. Together, they will work to break away from being mere tools for the powerful and become heroes.’

Knights, Ladies, Kingdoms – and mysterious plots and incidents color this very impressive debut novel, presented by a lady who seems to be ready to join the forces of escapist adventures. Grady Harp, May 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.