THE LAST KEY

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The Andean Commonwealth is a land where humans use their Faith to magically shape the world around them. Warrior-priests called dahkshari keep order by serving as judge, jury, and executioner. And “heretics” strike out into the unknown frontier along Andea’s borders to escape the overcrowded Great Cities and the strict Faith dogmas of the cleric lords.

Raven Byrne is a novice dahkshari about to complete his training. He discovers that a popular Andean war hero named Thallan Brael wants to use an ancient magic called the Reaping Keys to avenge the deaths of his family, who were killed during Andea’s recent war with neighboring Loquath. If Brael finds all three Reaping Keys, he could “reap” the souls of every Loquathi man, woman, and child. The guilty and the innocent would pay for the lives of Brael’s dead family.

With the help of Brael’s niece, Seala Mesalek, Raven embarks on a journey across Andea’s dangerous frontier to stop Brael from using the Reaping Keys to commit genocide. Can Raven learn to put aside his prejudice against heretics, and his doubts in himself, to become the honorable dahkshari Andea needs?

From The New Podler Review of Books: The Last Key is a great fantasy story. Steiner has crafted a world where politics muddy the boundary between good and evil and forces the characters to find a clear path to solve a world-shattering crisis. His characters rise above stereotypes and engage each other with realistic dialogue that comes naturally to them. And they evolve. Although it is only his first novel, The Last Key clearly exemplifies Steiner’s mastery of writing high fantasy. He is one to watch.

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