What It’s About:
Curses are placed on those who break the law and they can never be lifted. Marshal is cursed and has been since birth. It’s not enough that he’s already an outcast amongst his village and hated by Victor, the young man with whom he’s magically bonded to, now he has to contend with the son of a lord who wants him dead. In a desperate attempt to protect her son’s life, Marshal’s mother, Aelia, flees her village with Marshal and a very reluctant Victor, in search of a way to lift his curse.
Meanwhile, Seri has aspirations of becoming the first ever female mage on the island of Zes Sivas. With a wide-eyed view of the world, she soon discovers that not all is as it seems. The very magic that she’s so longed to master is fragmenting, and the mages that she desires to one day emulate are perishing without a cause to be found.
What I Liked:
This book has some really cool and distinct characters for a fantasy setting. There are no orcs, dwarves, or elves in this tale, though the Eldanim remind of some variation of an elf-like being. Instead, we’re treated to races that exist in two separate realms. The Eldanim, in particular, exude a strange appearance when viewed by humans due to the fact that they live in both worlds simultaneously. While other fantasy character tropes are present, they’re typically presented in new and interesting ways. For instance, Marshal and his traveling companions are pursued for much of the novel by a highly skilled assassin; however, Kishin is also a leper who does not seem to fear death, but rather, uses his curse as an extra advantage in terrifying his prey. Cool!
The magic system is also rather unique. Much of the world’s magic – performed by harnessing vibrations – has been divided up within the bodies of the seven lords of the lands of Antises. This makes these men incredibly powerful, and if one is not careful, quite frightening as well. Once a lord dies, his magic is then fully passed on to his firstborn. However, if a lord himself has broken the law, a curse – imbued by his magic – will be inflicted upon his child as well. Likewise, the mages of the island of Zes Sivas – once home to the high King – also possess magic, but their task is to assist the lords, protect the realm, and serve their god. Finally, the Eldanim possess their own form of magic – though they might not call it that.
The novel is filled with excellent character development. While there may be only two point of view characters, many of the supporting characters experience a remarkable amount of growth. Typically, the evolution of the characters is manifested through either a relationship with one of the other characters, the exploration of real-life themes – mental illness, addiction, feelings of worthlessness, and jealousy – or a combination of both. I found myself on numerous occasions thinking, “wow, I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy novel that’s dealt with, in such a human way, powerful themes as these.”
What Didn’t Do It For Me:
I found myself caring a lot less about the chapters dealing with Seri and her dilemmas than I did for those of Marshal and his traveling companions. I suppose this has to do with the fact that Marshal’s journey is more dire on a personal level, whereas Seri’s chapters, while fun, deal with issues on a much grander scale. That’s not to say that her character development isn’t there, but there were certainly times where I felt bored reading her chapters.
Through the guise of an exciting and engaging high fantasy, Until All Curses Are Lifted not only explores the deeply personal and challenging depths of humanity, but the ways in which people can be so inspiring as well. If you like thought-provoking, allegorical fantasy, this book is for you.