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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
A fantasy epic fueled by fanatical religious ideology reminiscent of Walter M. Miller Jr.'s Hugo Award-winning dystopian classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, this concluding volume of Victoria Strauss' Way of Ârata duology (and sequel to 2004's The Burning Land) continues the trials and tribulations of Gyalo Amdo Samchen, a devout Âratist -- the principal religion of the continent Galea -- whose unwavering faith brands him a heretic, an outcast and an unlikely prophet.
As a vengeance-obsessed madman named Râvar -- who saw his entire community destroyed by religious zealots -- makes his way toward the city of Baushpar, the headquarters of the Âratist Church, so too does Gyalo, the exiled monk who is believed to be dead by the rest of the world. Bent on destroying the Âratist faith and its immortal Brothers and Sisters, Râvar is posing as the Next Messenger, the much-prophesized herald of the god Ârata's awakening. With an army of devoted followers at his back, the false prophet charges headlong toward what will surely be an apocalyptic showdown. Gyalo, meanwhile, struggles to find a way to save his family, his faith, and thousands of innocent disciples…
Like A Canticle for Leibowitz, Strauss' The Awakened City explores deeply reflective themes like the true meaning of faith, the dangers of zealotry, and the very dodgy non-spiritual influences of organized religion -- which in turn expose deeper questions concerning morality, redemption, and the ultimate question: Why do we exist? Fantasy fans who enjoy highly intelligent, profoundly thought-provoking works should definitely check out the Way of Ârata duology -- the gospel according to Strauss. Paul Goat Allen