Article first published as Book Review: 'Spirians: Spirian Saga, The Beginning by Rowena Portch on Blogcritics.
March 3, 2015
New Spirian Novel Tells Origin Story with Highland Setting
Spirians is the ninth book (eight novels plus a novelette) in the Spirian Saga series by author Rowena Portch, but if you haven’t read the other books, this is a great one to start with because it’s an origin tale. Although set in the eighteenth century in Scotland, it explains how the Spirians came into the world at the beginning of time, sent as Angels by the Spirit to fight Lucifer and the evil ones who became Shadows. Gently playing with biblical history, including a revision of the Tower of Babel story that ties to Atlantis, Portch’s imagination weaves a plausible origin story that feels truthful and realistic for her supernatural fictional characters.
More specifically, Spirians is the tale of Shanuk, who has appeared in previous novels, but whose full story has not been told until now. The novel opens in 1736, with Shanuk as a Spirian on the verge of becoming a warrior. Not knowing who his parents were and believing them dead, Shanuk has been raised in a Spirian clan with Armen and Barakel as its elders and Talden as its leader. Armen and Barakel know the truth about Shanuk’s past and that the young Spirian has powers he does not realize, and they fear that if Shanuk falls under the Shadows’ influence, those powers could have devastating effects. They want to believe Shanuk is good and strong enough not to give into the Shadows’ influence, but Armen finds himself thinking, “If I were wrong about the powerful young Spirian, our kind would fall to the strength of the Shadows. The Earth would be lost to us and would become infested with narcissistic beings who ruled with power, fear, and intimidation. The humans would be enslaved and bred to be submissive.” In other words, the future of the Spirians and humans lies in Shanuk’s hands, although he does not know it.
Oblivious to his true origins, Shanuk is more focused upon gaining warrior status in the tribe, especially before his rival, Timult, can. Together, they are both vying for the hand of Calla, who is half-Fae and whose parents have gone missing. Her romantic inclinations sway her toward Shanuk, but Timult wishes to claim her as his own, and he claims to have knowledge about her parents’ whereabouts that he tries to use to control her and make her his mate.
Soon, drama ensues when Timult and Shanuk are sent to trade with some humans and encounter a Shadow leader, who has his own secrets that could be devastating once they are revealed because of how they relate to Shanuk’s mysterious past. Before long, loyalties are in question and the Spirians must prepare themselves to battle their old enemy, not realizing that the enemy may already be in their midst.
I have enjoyed all the books in the Spirian Saga so far, but this one is my favorite because I always love a good origins tale, and I especially like the Scottish Highlands setting. While the novel is only perhaps on the border of historical fiction and more of a paranormal fantasy tale, I enjoyed the dialogue with the humans who speak Scottish brogue, and I couldn’t help being reminded when the characters go to the Isle of Skye that the novel takes place not long before the Battle of Culloden, so perhaps down the road, Shanuk and Calla will meet Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald when the prince makes his way “over the sea to Skye.” Anyway, the Scottish atmosphere appealed to me, and that we have paranormal characters is an added plus.
I think anyone who enjoys a good action adventure fantasy, such as the Highlander or X-Men films, will enjoy this book. Portch’s characters may not be human, but they are realistically portrayed with their emotions of love, jealousy, and hope and in their motivations behind their choices to side with good or evil. If you haven’t read the previous novels in the series, Spirians is a good one to start with, and if you have read them, you’ll doubtless be thrilled to learn more of the characters’ backstories.
For more information about Spirians, Rowena Portch, and the Spirian Saga, visit http://rowenaportch.com.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and award-winning author of The Children of Arthur series
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