Leona Wisoker’s Fallen City is described as “a supplement to Children of the Desert“. It’s the story of the origin of the Desert and the Desert Families, and to a certain extent, the story of the early years of Deiq, the half-human figure who is so much the mover and shaper of events throughout the series.
The story itself, however, centers on an unnamed city set amid lush tropical gardens, and its ruling family: the kaen, autocratic, irrational, and temperamental, whose name we never know (not that it matters); his oldest son, Edin, the heir who is expected to start producing children, an activity in which he has no interest; Jine, his daughter, who is not quite as submissive to her father’s will as daughters should be; and Tyle, the younger son, who is much like his father, and who wants the throne, no matter what he as to do to gain it. And in the middle of it all is Deiq, who really does his best to save the situation, but has to deal on the one hand with recalcitrant humans and on the other, a half-crazed, desperate hakrethe, one of those mysterious creatures who live, if you can all it that, beneath the cities, survivors of an ancient civilization that vanished before human beings had become human. It’s cast as a story within a story, the frame being the story Idisio tells in Guardians of the Desert, as amended by Deiq’s memories of the actual events.
It’s a chilling rendering of the end result of treating people as objects, commodities to be bought and sold and otherwise disposed of as suits one’s mood, a trait embodied by the kaen and by Tyle – and by the hakrethe, who at least has the excuse of not being in the least human — one that both Jine and Edin rebel against.
It’s also a very revealing portrait of Deiq, a being who is caught between two worlds and who has learned to disguise himself to insure his own continued existence. There are no blinding revelations here, just the unfolding of a very complex person whose non-human heritage gives him great power. But Deiq does have limits, as he learns to his chagrin.
It’s a brief story, only sixty-three pages. Wisoker claims that the reader needn’t be familiar with the series to understand what’s going on here. I could go either way on that question — granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read the series, so it was almost like coming to it fresh, but there were places where I found myself wishing I remembered more than I did.
(Self-published through Scribbling Lion, LLC, 2014)