The Talented Book 1 by Rachel Rossano Genre: Christian Fantasy
In a world where seventh born sons are valued for their strength and power, she is born a daughter.
Zezilia Ilar is the disappointment. Born after six brothers, she was supposed to be the son to restore her family’s prestige. She intends to remedy her shortcomings by being a dutiful daughter, marrying well and producing children, preferably a set of seven sons. But when someone offers her an alternative, she begins to dream of more.
In a society that worships a goddess, he follows the Almighty.
Hadrian Aleron, as a seventh son of a seventh son, stands to take up the second highest position in government, Sept Son. His main qualification for office is his birth. Despite preparing for this role from childhood, he does not desire what is to come. As a follower of the Almighty, he knows he will be the target of many, and his faith might eventually lead to death.
Zezilia Ilar joins the sept son's entourage as a defender. Her growing Talent ability makes her a target for the Elitists, and her gender makes people question her competence. She must protect the sept son. Any mistake could be fatal.
Hadrian Aleron always knew his beliefs would cause trouble, but he didn't realize how much. Rebels are rising. He could lose his title, his position, and if he's not careful, his life. As the assassination attempts grow bolder, Hadrian must rely upon his young defender and their shared faith in the Almighty to keep him from faltering.
The Defender is the second in a trilogy. Reading Seventh Born first is recommended.
Separated, but still joined, they strive for freedom.
Left behind at the sept son's compound, Zezilia Ilar struggles with the after effects of her prolonged commisceo-link with Hadrian. She devotes herself to caring for the wounded arriving almost daily from the battlefields. Pressed to perform procedures and make decisions far beyond her training, Zez grows in confidence and skill. All the while, she wonders if she'll see Hadrian again, fearing the worst possible news will arrive any day.
Sept Son Hadrian Aleron fights to bring peace to his home nation. Allied with the new high king, he and a small army of Talented struggle to retake the capital city. Elitists, though scattered, continue to pick off the strongest of his men. As he battles the remnants of the commisceo-link and tries to organize the campaign, he begins losing himself to exhaustion. Only a miracle will keep him alive.
Living Sacrifice is the third in a trilogy. Reading Seventh Born and The Defender first is recommended.
I began my first shift as an assistant healer without much instruction. Madame Arnata glanced up when I entered her office. “Good, you are here. There is your assignment list.” She pointed to a wooden board the length of my forearm. “Pick out a uniform from that closet there and get to work.”
Before I could pick up the board, Madame Arnata stood. Briskly walking around the end of her desk, she gathered up an armful of boards similar to the one she had indicated I was to take. She shifted the pile to a nearby shelf on her way to the open door.
“Kaitera, the new volunteer is here!” she called out into the hall.
By the time I had retrieved a crisp red overtunic from the closet, Kaitera appeared. She smiled brightly at me. Her deep dimples emphasized her toothy grin. She showed me a room filled with open nooks and hooks for storing cloaks and personal items. As I changed, she chattered away.
“So you are Defender Ilar? Welcome to the healer’s hall. Madame Arnata said your skills will be well suited for the mind-patient ward. That is a good thing. We need the help. The Elitists kept our beds full, but now with this war, we are bursting with needy patients and lacking in qualified staff. All of our defender-trained healers were called to attend the injured at the front. Since then, we have been unable to help the mind-sick patients.”
Kait, as she insisted I call her, continued to fill me in on exactly how the ward functioned as I pulled my new healer uniform on over my dark blue defender tunic.
“You will probably want to leave that back in your rooms next time.” Kait gestured to where the taller blue collar poked out from beneath the red scooped neck. “Things can get a bit messy, especially when you are first starting out. Madame Arnata believes everyone should start out at the bottom. You will be emptying chamber pots and waste buckets for the first few days. Nothing more humiliating than cleaning up after other people.”
She held the door for me. The corridor echoed with her chatter. Thankfully, her voice was pleasant to the ear. Her verboseness covered up my reticence neatly. However, it made the silence all the more noticeable when she finally left me in the midst of a cavernous room filled with row upon row of silent patients.
Bright with sunlight and airy despite the occupants’ state of health, it still smelled of lime and the stale scent of sickness. I hung my board on the belt around my waist and set to work emptying bodily waste into the provided wheeled bin. The motions soon became a rhythm, something my defender training had taught me to appreciate and exploit.
Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.
Culture and Worldbuilding in TheTalented
By Rachel Rossano
The culture and worldbuilding of Prantinus, the setting of The Talented, is heavily influenced by the genetic Talents, telepathy and telekinesis. I began with the hypothetical of what if more than half a country’s population were genetically inclined toward these skills. What if the skill strength is strongest in seventh born sons in families of only sons? What if a seventh born child after a whole series of sons ended up being a girl instead?
Using some influences from Ancient Rome and a bit the Latin language in the naming of the characters and places, I started building the culture of Prantinus.
Their strange political system of kingly families that take turns fulfilling the role of the highest office of high king, is motivated by a desire to not establish an Emperor or other kind of despot. Then I gave the selection power of the next high king to a the sept son, a position filled based solely on talent ability and birth order, not noble blood. That way a butcher’s son could select the next high king from the seven ruling houses. In turn, the sept son is vetted by the ruling high king in a balance of power. Though, the occurrence of seven sons without any daughters is a rare enough event that there are few applicants of the right age for the position whenever it is opened up by the death of a sept son.
To add even more complexity, I included a third power to the mix. The mesitas, or high priest of the national religion, balances out the other two powers. The national religion is one of ceremony, blood, and prophesy, revolving around the worship of a vengeful goddess figure.
Within this strange world, I brought together the daughter of a non-ruling kingly house, Zez, and the seventh born son of a lowly non-noble house, Hadrian. They follow the Almighty, who they consider to be the only true God. Together they must stand against corruption, betrayal, and persecution on multiple fronts as their county steadily declines toward anarchy.
The opposition? A vengeful mesitas out to avenge his goddess, two power hungry non-ruling kings who want the high kingship, and a cult-like movement that teaches that those with Talent should be in power.
Who do think wins?
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