Written by: Nicholas C. Prata
Published By: Arx Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Some time ago I read Dream of Fire by Nicholas C. Prata, a book about the unlikeliest of heroes, selected by God to save the mythical world of Pangea from the apocalypse. This unlikely heroís name is Kerebos, leader of the Black Legion army, a barbaric group of soldiers bent on conquering the people of Pangea in the most vile manner. When I began reading that novel, I started off thinking that this Kerebos guy was evil incarnate, but as the story wound on, I realized that he wasnít always this way. What could turn a good man into something so evil that he is hated by everyone, including himself? And why would someone like him be chosen by God to save the world from apocalypse? Those questions are answered in Nicholas C. Prataís prequel novel, Kerebos.
From day one the life of the man who would be known as Kerebos Ikar seemed to be cursed. His father, Daedilos Rapax, was a simple farmer in love with a wealthy merchantís daughter. Suffering a difficult pregnancy and childbirth, she was forced to move back home with her father to receive the proper medical care. When it appeared certain that his wife would never return to the farm with him, Daedilos left with his newborn son, Livios.
The life of a farmer is not an easy one, but Daedilos did his best to provide for his son who took to the life quite naturally, growing to become a hearty young man. This drew the attention of Vara, the town whore and Daedilos warned Livios to stay clear of her wily ways. Unfortunately, Livios was extremely attracted to Vara and could not hold her at bay for long. Daedilos surprised them in the barn and an argument ensued. Feeling dirty and depraved, Livios began to lose control and, before he knew what he was doing he had attacked his father, killing him with one blow. Life would never be the same for Livios after that.
Running from the law with his friend Felix, Livios comes upon men from the Black Legion and joins up. Going through the trials to become a legionary proved to be excruciatingly difficult, especially after his friend Felix is killed by a legionary early on in the training process. Losing everyone he has ever considered friend or family, Livios makes the members of the Black Legion his family and eventually becomes a legionary himself. But when his training officer names him Patricides - father killer - Liviosí rage takes over and he murders him. FortunatelyÖor unfortunately as we learn later and in Dream of FireÖa charismatic leader in the Black Legion has taken a liking to Livios and has offered him a way to avoid execution at the Legionís hands. He earns himself a new name: Kerebos.
Upon surviving the trials set before him, Kerebos soon becomes one of the Black Legionís finest officers. Yet, there is some part of him who hates what he has become and what he is ordered to do, often times to people he considers innocent. A newfound love for a slave girl named Kassandra eases some of the pain, but not all of it, and only the hope of one day leaving the Legion with Kassandra as his wife carries him through day to day. But as the days wear on, Kerebos becomes appalled to learn that he is beginning to like the taste of blood. Can he ever truly part with the Legion or will the Black Legion take away the last visible signs of humanity Kerebos still possesses?
Kudos for Nicholas C. Prata for pulling no punches in explaining how Livios turned into the man Kerebos Ikar had become. It is now easy to understand Kerebosí lack of faith in God now that we know the whole story. This book brings up the age old theological philosophy question of why bad things happen to good people. Before his father came upon Livios and Vara, the Rapax family were considered good, hardworking farmers. After the barn incident, Livios wonders as to why God allowed him to kill his father. Why hadnít he been stopped? Why had Livios been allowed to live despite this evil thing he had done? I love a book that makes you think!
As we read more and more, we realize that Kerebos believes God has forsaken him and that he can never be free of the evils he has done. Each atrocity he commits creates that much more guilt in the man. The guilt eats away at his humane side and he soon believes that he is unworthy of anything good in his life. This is helped along by his mentor. I loved the fact that Prata created such an aura of respect about this man that readers would fall in love with him and believe Lasctakos to be Kerebosí last hope for happiness. Then he slams us with the cold, harsh reality of Lasctakosí true intentions. This went a long way in helping us to understand Kerebosí feelings of betrayal. Betrayed by himself, by his family and by God himself, it is no wonder that Livios Rapax becomes the loveless, hate-filled Black Legion Ikar known as Kerebos.
I must warn everyone that Kerebos is not for the faint of heart. This is a very descriptive book and atrocities committed by the officers of the Black Legion are rather gory. If you are one of those people who canít read descriptive battle scenes or who covers their eyes during horror films, this book is not for you. But if you can see past those things and realize that they contribute to the man that Kerebos becomes, then you will understand how necessary these scenes are to the story as a whole.
Kerebos is a perfect prequel to Dream of Fire. Everything we wondered about the main character of Dream of Fire is explained in great detail. The book has something for everyone. Religious philosophers will enjoy the theories tackled in the story. Action fans will find plenty of long and exciting battle scenes to get their adrenaline pumping. Fans of any genre will find themselves engrossed in a well-written tale that not only relays an interesting story, but forces you to think about the events that take place and how you might react to what the main character is put through. Nicholas C. Prata has done it again with Kerebos. I loved this book - possibly even more than the novel that inspired it!