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Science Fiction Index


A novel by D.M. Wozniak
(2019, D.M. Wozniak)

Age of Axion, book 1

When his wife leaves him for a powerful man, the royal master voider goes south, discovering the corrupted source of his power, and the reason for the war his king has engaged in.


+ -- First reading (ebook)
January 27th to February 11th, 2021


An interesting concept that starts as pure fantasy and ends in science fiction. The book drops us into this world, where Voiders can use powers to affect the world around them, and the Effulgency is a sort of religious cult, and we learn about them both as the book goes on. I liked the way the main character grew throughout the story, and especially how what he learned or obtained in one chapter often had a relevant effect on the next one, kind of like a video game. The writing style took some time to get used to, being kind of operatic in quality as narrated from the first person aristocracy, but flowed easily enough once I got used to it. One thing I had trouble with was the way the main character kept exhausting himself with voidance even when it wasn’t urgent to do so. What kind of power leaves their wielder near death after small exertions? By the end of the book he was giving mostly huge exertions, for which exhaustion is a more reasonable price.

Spoiler review:

I always enjoy being dumped in the middle of a story, and figuring out how the world works. In this case, it’s the void, and the way it’s used. Through the first few chapters, Democryos demonstrates that he can alter the physical world by touching his voidstone. It’s always necessary to have a price to pay for using magic, but this seems extreme for the usage. While it’s true that warming a bathtub of water or heating a balloon full of air for a long journey must take a lot of effort, there are other things that seemed pale in comparison that should not have left him so drained, I thought. The only voidance that he performed that didn’t drain him was floating down the cliff with Chimeline at the very beginning.

Throughout the story, Democryos is obsessed with finding his wife, who left him that morning for somebody else. He can’t believe it, and the mystery deepens when he finds out the man she left with had obscured his face, proving that he’s a voider. Meanwhile, Democryos is upset at the King’s war, which has taken almost all of his voider students. The King knows that he’s not a Master Voider for wartime, and (we learn later) sends one of his consorts home with Democryos to kill him. But something draws him away, and he leaves for a hidden laboratory, where he finds all sorts of voidance materials, including an airship of his own design.

Taking the assassin (whom he thinks is a whore) with him in the airship, he burns the laboratory to the ground, and they travel south, closer to the war. But the effort in keeping the air hot drains him too much, and they crash, and end up in a cage. The effulgent who comes to feed them and discuss their situation spews what seems at first religious nonsense about owning the dark, and giving to the nameless one. It’s here that Democryos starts to grow, as he realizes that the world is way larger and more complicated than he ever thought.

It comes from his time being so busy with the University, where he cares only for teaching his students, and choosing the most talented to go out into the world -except that Democryos knows nothing about the world, so he’s actually sending them to their doom. The others who are sent to war probably fare better, as they seem to have been put to work searching for a huge voidstone in the bay.

Democryos learns that his student was killed accidentally by the effulgent from a disagreement about a house, and he spends time at a drug farm with another of his students -who has lost the ability to perform voidance because of his addiction. There they pick up Colu, a mercenary who used to be part of the enemy’s navy. The time with the drug addicts was telling, showing how much Democryos doesn’t know, even about the people who are traveling with him. It takes his student to tell him about Chimeline being an assassin.

The big change in the book comes when the effulgent, who gets named Blythe by Democryos, touches the voidstone, and realizes that the theories his religion preaches can be confirmed. This is where the book changes from fantasy to science fiction. It turns out that the effulgency came from outer space, and mingled with the local population to stay alive. The voidstones are part of their hyperspace drive, the axion drive, and are filled with the disassociated souls of people- slaves who in this form can manipulate the physical world. At that point, they reach the southern city and bay that was in contention in the war, and where Marine and the mysterious voider traveled by airship. It turns out that Mender, yet another of Democryos’ students, was also an effulgent, one of the few who could be both. And he’s after the axiondrive. He’s contacted the rest of his people, who are coming.

Democryos fights him, but even with the help of the trapped souls, who make him much more powerful, he can’t defeat Mender. Marine sacrifices herself once she sees Mender’s plan, entering the voidstone, while Chimeline is touched by the open voidstone, and develops a link to the souls within. She helps Democryos chase Mender, where they fight and Mender is finally killed.

I liked the way Democryos realizes that he loves Chimeline, even though she was assigned to kill him, as she comes to love him also. He realizes that his wife Marine, whom he idolized, was really just interested in power, and that she didn’t love him the way he loved her. Their relationship developed slowly such that the readers saw it before he did.

Good characterization and a slow boil to the story, which has a small shocking moment, make this a story worth reading, and keeps me interested in what comes next. The writing style is almost operatic, in the first person, and is difficult in some places, but deeper into the book, I was able to get used to it. Not bad at all.


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