Awakenings (Gennebar Rising, Book 1)
SciroFant Books, 2017 September 20
324 pages (paperback)
FIC009020 / Fiction : Fantasy – Epic
Kindle $3.99 (ISBN 978-1-77342-008-0)
Paperback $11.99 (ISBN 978-1-77342-005-9)
Hardcover $19.99 (ISBN 978-1-77342-024-0)
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Arol, a boy of humble origins but an extraordinary cosmic birthright, approaches manhood in a time of great strife. The brutal Drenarian Empire has enslaved and impoverished his people, the Gennebri. A courageous band of rebels hopes to liberate the province of Gennebar, but first they must turn hearts and minds away from a corrupt religious hierarchy, and also from a heretical sect preaching compliance and passivity. As Arol’s cosmic gift awakens, it falls to the heroic rebel leader, the clairvoyant Senasha, to breathe new hope into the rebellion with a brilliant exploit.
Meanwhile, Arol’s struggle to understand the changes coming over him leads him to Bernarro, a genius with his own cosmic gift and a scientific sensibility centuries ahead of his time. While Arol learns from Bernarro to harness his powers, Arol’s best friend Zorn meets and falls in love with Senasha, and the pair embarks on a daring mission to kill a tyrant and recover a priceless Gennebri relic. As the rebellion gathers strength, foretellings of natural and divine calamities threaten Gennebar. Arol’s choices will determine not only his own future, but the fate of the rebellion and his people.
“[Geller maintains] a tightly paced plot from beginning to end. An epic fantasy tale set in
an ornately crafted universe.” —Recommended, Kirkus Reviews (refers to the complete Gennebar Rising trilogy: Books 1-3)
Clint Geller is a research physicist at a US government laboratory near Pittsburgh, PA, where he lives with his wife of 31 years. He has received awards and recognition for
his non-fiction writing, but Gennebar Rising is his first foray into fiction. It won’t be his last.
The story reflects Dr. Geller’s lifelong love of science and his inexhaustible wonder at the natural world, his love of history, his Jewish ethnic roots, and his zeal for interrogating blind faith and revealed “truth” under the hot light of reason and evidence.
The person at the center of the assemblage looked dignified, with a neat, trimmed beard and clean gray robes, but his balding pate was uncovered, which immediately struck Arol as odd. Zorn, however, gave a savvy nod. The man was working the small gathering, exhorting them. Arol altered his direction in order to pass closer and hear what the man was saying, but felt Zorn’s restraining hand on his shoulder.
“He’s a Lemuelite,” Zorn whispered. “A Temple attendant mustn’t be seen taking too great an interest in those people. The High Priestess regards them as heretics and apostates.”
Closer inspection of the scene revealed a Drenarian man-at-arms standing at ease within earshot of the gathering. Zorn guessed the soldier might have been paying much closer attention to the speech than his relaxed posture and feigned disinterest were intended to suggest. No doubt there could have been a Temple informer in the gathering as well. “The Drenarian authorities are not yet openly hostile to the Lemuelites,” Zorn advised, “but they are at least wary, so their continued forbearance cannot be assumed. The High Priestess inveighs against Lemuelism daily, and she has the viceroy’s ear.”
“Zorn, sometimes I think you are speaking Graeke. Speak Gennebri, without all those big words,” Arol chided.
“Sorry. It’s a habit I picked up from my uncles when I learned to read,” Zorn apologized. “You should really learn to read and write yourself, you know. I bet you would be good at it.”
Arol nodded. “I know it is a rare gift you offer me, and I am a fool not to take you up on it. Maybe soon, best friend.”
“Maybe soon!” Zorn encouraged.
Curiosity wrung a concession from caution and the friends slowed their pace as they passed by the speaker and his audience so they could listen to some of the dialog without being too obvious about it.
“Brothers, the crises of this earthly plane give us an opportunity to be the instruments of God’s love and to show the way to salvation for our fellow sinners in the next. That is the only significance of today’s trials,” the preacher professed.
“You speak of sin,” challenged a listener, “but there you stand bareheaded, blaspheming the laws of our faith!” The speaker turned a kindly smile to his detractor and replied in a gentle voice. “Brother, I too am of your faith, but the Lord God has proclaimed a New Law in the land that supersedes the old. The New Law was proclaimed through the sacrifice of Yeshaleb, his most beloved prophet.”
Upon this remark the Drenarian observer’s heightened interest was betrayed by an undisciplined eyebrow. The controversial Gennebri preacher, Yeshaleb, had perished some twenty years earlier. An anatomical peculiarity, a withered second little finger on his right hand, was claimed by some to have marked him as a prophet. The preferred Drenarian method of punishment for dissidents and agitators, evisceration, had been employed in his execution, and the victim’s entrails had been nailed to a pole for public display while the victim still lived. Adding to the dead prophet’s mystique, his remains inexplicably vanished from the evisceration pole, fueling all manner of wild speculation concerning his ultimate fate. The speaker risked a furtive glance at his expressionless armed observer, then plunged ahead. “The New Law instructs us that a man’s standing before the Lord is no longer dictated by his obedience to the Code of Meshnab. A man’s standing before almighty God is determined solely by his faith, by his belief in Yeshaleb as the True Prophet of God, and his message of love and redemption. Absent this essential faith, entry into heaven will still be denied even to the most pious and God-fearing. But with faith in Yeshaleb as the True Prophet of God, mountains can be moved. Faith can absolve a lifetime of sin, and we are all sinners, my brothers. We are born damned and must be saved!”
Arol and Zorn had passed out of hearing range of the sermon. “Was that Lemuel?” Arol asked.
“I think not. Probably just one of his faithful,” decided Zorn thoughtfully.
“What do you make of all that?” Arol pressed.
“Well, I can certainly see why the High Priestess is so enraged by this Lemuel and his followers.”
“Imagine. Calling the Lady, Mother of the Universe, ‘Lord’!” Arol remarked.
“He probably does that just to torque the priestesses, you know, challenge their legitimacy,” Zorn opined. “But of all the hornets’ nests that man kicked, calling the Goddess a man was surely the least of them.” Arol thought about Zorn’s response but came up empty.
“You heard him, Arol. He just rejected or at least completely reinterpreted the entire Code of Meshnab, the bedrock of our religion and laws. It’s all or nothing, Arol. You have faith in Yeshaleb and the New Law and you’re ‘saved,’ or you don’t and you’re damned.”
Arol was confused. “Saved from what?”
“Ahh. Another of those hornets’ nests, Arol. Saved from God’s wrath and eternal damnation and punishment, that’s what. Lemuel thinks you start out in a hole and the only way to pull yourself out is to get faith and be saved. The rest of it, all the rules and customs we grew up with? Well, they no longer matter. And the High Priestess Dimacielle especially doesn’t matter,” Zorn winked.
The puzzle pieces were beginning to fit together. “So that’s why these devout pacifists spark such rage at the Temple,” Arol said.
“In large part, yes,” Zorn agreed, “but in Dimacielle’s case it might even go beyond that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Betrayal, Arol.” Zorn lowered his voice. “They say this Lemuel was employed by the Temple some years ago.”
“What did he do for the Temple?”
“Don’t know for sure, but I’d guess it was nothing to be proud of.”
Arol considered the sermon at the fountain again. “What if that fellow was right?” Arol asked.
“Then I guess we’d be in a lot of trouble,” Zorn conceded, “but you don’t see me losing much sleep over it, do you?”
“I guess not,” Arol concluded, as the pair resumed their normal pace.
The two had reached Narod’s shop. Narod, the proprietor, greeted them at the door and soon sent them on their way with the bolt of elegant heavy blue-and-white-striped cloth that had been ordered and already paid for by the Temple. They split the small loaf of fresh baked bread Mirand had given Zorn on their way out that morning and handed their small wineskin back and forth while walking.
“So where to ’mow?” Arol inquired in a bread-muffled mumble.
“To Scribes Way to see my grand uncle Hashemol,” came the reply. Arol eyed Zorn with a questioning look. “He may know where to find the person who might be able to help with your little time problem,” Zorn added in his softest voice.
“The kozem?” whispered Arol.
Zorn nodded. “Speak no more of this in the street.”
(end of excerpt)