This book deserves far more recognition than it has thus received. I just happened to stumble upon it, and it’s by and large one of the best new fantasies I’ve encountered in a long while. By laying the groundwork of his worldbuilding in traditional Indian ideas and social structures, author Davis Ashura gives us a story that’s fundamentally an Eastern epic, which is as refreshing as it is exciting.
We’re thrown into a world divided into seven Castes, each gifted with their own unique abilities and talents; a working magic system known as one’s Jivatma. Some Caste’s can use the elements to their advantage, where others use it to hide themselves, or to heal others., etc. And anyone known to develop talents outside of one’s Caste? Well it’s not looked favorably upon.
In fact, even being caught in a relationship with someone of a different Caste is cause for expulsion from the Oasis – an area protected from the evils that lurk and war against humanity. That evil being an army of Chimeras, led and created by Suwraith, an immensely powerful entity colloquially titled the Queen of Madness. Our characters find themselves at a pinnacle period within the history of humanity, where their next actions could mean putting an end to Suwraith’s chimeras, lest she annihilate all of mankind.
One thing I really appreciate about how Davis Ashura has built his world is by creating an overbearing societal structure, that has a realistic basis in morality. I see so many science fiction and fantasy authors inject their worlds with an almost anarchic view of morality that often abandons reasons and principals that humans have governed themselves by for thousands of years, and that’s just not a realistic understanding of how a world would and should develop. In The Castes and the OutCastes we get a world where morals and justice are central and integral to the understanding of the characters. That said, the social structure of this world takes those principals to the extreme, to a more pharisaical extent. Though we’re thrown into the world without knowing any of the unique rules of conduct, the author incorporates a specific scenario early on to get us caught up, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
There are a LOT of characters and POVs in this journey, each balanced very well. Sometimes while reading other books with a bunch of POVs you’ll notice that it’s difficult to make the switch from character to character – sometimes you’re so engrossed in one that the others seem secondary. Not so with this novel. Ashura makes it so that each character feels essential to the plot, and each chapter with a new POV feels much needed and right on time. I never got the feeling that I enjoyed certain characters abundantly more than others, and that’s a testament to how good each character was written. I do think the book would have been a bit stronger if it stuck with only a handful of POV characters, but this is a minor niggle.
I will say that by the end of the book, I wished I knew more about the magic system – the different talents produced by one’s Caste and Jivatma. I feel like I get it now, but when we’re first being introduced to it there is a lot to swallow, and it isn’t made abundantly clear.
Davis Ashura’s A Warrior’s Path is an excellent read. And it’s the first in a trilogy, as it’s written as the first act in a long book. Book two, A Warrior’s Knowledge is on shelves, and book three is well on its way. If I were to compare the world Davis Ashura’s crafted with anything else, I’d have to describe the vibes I got while reading it. And it totally reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive (which I hold in the highest regard, so that’s a serious compliment). Not that it took any concepts or idea from Sanderson, but the way Ashura balances characters, forms his thoughts, carries his pace, and throws you into a world without having to explain each and every detail – it’s just good writing. And more people need to give it a shot. Grab a copy at the link below, and give the author a follow on Twitter.
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