One of the longest enduring staples in fiction is that of the Chosen One. The Chosen One is the special hero, standing above all others as the only one capable of defeating the enemy of the story or saving the world. The method for selecting a chosen one can be varied. In many stories, there is some form of prophecy which only fits this one individual. In others, they may have a certain birthmark or be born from the right parents at just the right time. This trope is not even relegated to one genre. Chosen one are found all throughout fantasy, science-fiction, and beyond. Harry Potter may be one of the most recognizable examples, but the chosen one can also be found in Star Wars in the form of Anakin Skywalker, and in The Matrix with Neo. Even The Lord of the Rings, which posits that anyone can defeat evil if they have the courage to rise up, contains a chosen one to a certain extent with Eowyn. However, the chosen one has waned in popularity. There are no chosen ones in real life.
Fresh off her debut series of fantasy novels, King’s Dark Tidings, Kel Kade has decided to completely flip the chosen one narrative on its head with Fate of the Fallen. Published at the end of 2019, the novel refuses to become a standard messianic tale and examines a more realistic outcome of a chosen one prophecy. This practicality may be informed by Kade’s previous life, prior to becoming an author. Formerly an environmental consultant, it is possible Kade saw the lengths some people may go to avoid real world consequences. After that point in her life, she continued into a doctoral program studying volcanic rock geochemistry and marine research. This dedication to science and reason definitely shows in her writing style, which balances being measured and endlessly entertaining. Currently, Kade occasionally works as adjunct faculty at a university near her home.
From here on out, this will be a full spoiler review. If you do not wish to learn about the plot, please go read the book and come back. This review will wait.
Fate of the Fallen is a novel about what happens when the heroes lose immediately, when everyone focuses too much on the chosen one to think about what happens if they lose. This is a novel where the end times are nigh, and people are just giving up in the face of the apocalypse. Kade sets up the two heroes of the novel, Mathias and Aaslo, young men living in the remote northern forest of their continent. Mathias is sharp, quick witted, and a skilled fighter. Aaslo is quieter, thoughtful, and still an excellent fighter. Very quickly, we learn that Mathias is the chosen one, the only one able to defeat the coming danger. He is both the result of prophecy and a special birthmark. He also dies at the end of chapter two. Immediately, we realize that Mathias, while the chosen one, was never the hero of this story. The protagonist is Aaslo, picking up his best friend’s burden and pledging to try and fight on.
Aaslo is a reluctant hero. He had not wish to leave the forest, having sworn his life to tending it. Aaslo is a forester which, in Kade’s fictional world, is sort of like a highly respected conservationist. Foresters maintain the forests and the animals which call them home. They maintain a balance in nature, and work with the local governments to ensure that all can enjoy the forest’s bounties without destroying them. Logging is still an industry, but only in areas deemed acceptable by the forester. And new trees must be planted for every one cut down. The forester is a highly respected profession, and just as mysterious to the common folk. This is our hero of the story. Mysterious, knowledgeable, and a skilled fighter. Aaslo carries Mathias’ burden, in more ways than one, as he attempts to rally the world to fight the oncoming end times. Aware that he will never motivate people like Mathias, Aaslo gets more desperate as the story progresses.
While Mathias falls very early in the story, moving the plot to Aaslo, he is by no means gone. Immediately after his death, Aaslo is instructed to take Mathias’ head to the king as proof that the chosen one has died. Preserved through magical means, the head of Mathias never leaves Aaslo’s side throughout the adventure. While this alone makes other characters question his sanity, Aaslo also continues to hear Mathias speak to him. The novel never provides an exact answer for what is happening. It could be that Aaslo was driven insane by the death of his closest friend, his brother in all things. Or it could be something far more supernatural in nature. There are moments when the voice is silent, mostly when Aaslo is separated from the head. Towards the end of the novel, Aaslo even comments how the voice does not always act like Mathias did in life. While the voice could disappear if Aaslo confronts his grieve, it is just as likely that Kade is saving up for a major twist in a later novel.
While Aaslo journeys with Mathias’ head, Kade introduces another major protagonist in the guise of Myropa, a reaper from the world of the gods. As a reaper, she is tasked with gathering souls at the moment of their death and ferrying them to the Sea of Transcendence, where all souls go when they die. It is hinted multiple times that Myropa, while once human, was selected as a reaper as punishment for committing suicide. Killing herself was an insult to the gods she now serves. Her story opens up the world of Fate of the Fallen and provides answers to many questions most series would save until the final novel. The end times, the prophecy, the murder of the chosen one; it is all the will of the gods. For their own reasons, the gods have decided to exterminate all humans through a final war. Myropa is tasked with following Aaslo and reporting on his activities. But there is still some mystery, as she seems to show some emotional investment with the hero. Hopefully, she remains as a main character throughout the series.
As Fate of the Fallen progresses, Kade takes us to darker and darker depths. Characters become desperate and kings resign themselves to their fate. The novel opens with a flash forward to a world where the undead seem to roam the lands, and the ending of novel hints at how that will come to pass. Throughout the novel, we also hear about the prophecy and how that ties into the gods’ plans, but the ending shows that nothing is set in stone. Fate of the Fallen is just the beginning of the series, however, and only future novels will show if our heroes will truly avert disaster, or just usher in a different apocalypse.
Fate of the Fallen can be found in store, online, or wherever books are sold
Total Read Time: 5 days
Next on the List: The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir In Pictures, by Noelle Stevenson