Ennek is the Chief’s second son and other than serving as the Portmaster, he has lived a life of lazy waste. But Ennek is forever haunted by the childhood memory of the man he found in stasis. Suspended in a magical form of living death, prisoners are bound in stasis as punishment for terrible crimes. Yet the man Ennek saw was still conscious, trapped and drowning for eternity. In a rash yet compassionate move, Ennek decides to free the man from stasis, but to fully revive him, he will need the help of the court wizard. Ennek has long distrusted Thelius for reasons he cannot fully comprehend, but the wizard offers to revive the prisoner in exchange for Ennek’s willingness to become his pupil.
Miner was sentenced to a thousand years in stasis for treason, but the wizard who immersed him decided to enact a cruel revenge by keeping him conscious. His torture lasted three hundred years until Ennek came to rescue him. Now, though thankful to be free of stasis, he finds himself struggling to make sense of the world around him. When Ennek is forced to make a terrible decision in order to save Miner’s life, the two men must discover if freedom is more important than safety and if love can survive the unimaginable.
Stasis was an overall enjoyable, though uneven, novel of two men trapped between rigid societal expectations and their own free will. The author has created an odd world building mix of fantasy and known historical context. For example, dragons exist in some fashion, but Ennek learned Latin as a child. This made for a slightly jarring vision of the world Ennek and Miner inhabited, but it not so foreign as to be beyond imagining.
Ennek is the primary focus of the book, but his character failed in some ways to really grab my attention. He seems slightly flat, though he is not fully devoid of depth. His instinct to help Miner is commendable and his commitment to keeping the man safe is endearing. But he’s hard to pin down. He often seems to lack much emotion or empathy for others and while the author explains why, it just never blends well with the character itself. Ennek doesn’t seem to care about much of anything or anyone, save Miner and even then we aren’t sure why he has so connected with the man. His actions are never fully explained and there came a point when, as a reader, I just had to go with it.
Miner is even more challenging as he seems to lack the spark of true personality. Part of this likely stems from the fact he has been in stasis for so long, but I couldn’t help feeling the real Miner never ended up on the page. This does appear to be the first in a series, so it could be these characters will more fully develop later down the road.
Despite the characters lack of development, the idea of stasis is rather attention grabbing. The more we read about Miner’s experiences and the reality of a seemingly endless torture authorized by the State, the real horror sets in. The author does a good job of giving us enough detail about Miner’s ordeal to make it seem genuine. And when we see Miner utterly terrified by something as simple as running water, it was hard to suppress a shiver. This concept of an eternal drowning makes the nature of Miner’s desperation a visceral experience for the readers.
Stasis had a fairly captivating storyline and while the characters didn’t always live up to their potential, there was enough to keep readers generally engaged. Miner and Ennek suffer from a lack of depthm but the author has done a good job of wanting us to care about their situation and want some kind of happy ever after for them. The concept of stasis and its effect on its victims gives the book a unique twist and one that kept me thinking about it for a few days after I was done. And that’s enough for me to offer up a recommendation to those of you who enjoy thought provoking fantasy.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.