Umbral Ten

Khaldaia Chronicles Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - General
301 Pages
Reviewed on 06/14/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Umbral Ten is a work of fiction in the fantasy and action/adventure sub-genres and was penned by author Douglas Murphy. Forming the first novel in the Khaldaia Chronicles, this work contains explicit language usage and some scenes of moderate violence which are suitable for more mature readers. In a dark world far from our own, we meet protagonist Theodosia Archmail after terrible tragedy has befallen her monastic home. Murder and beasts have brought ruin under the blood-red moon, and Theo has no choice but to run and find other survivors like her. But her horrors are only beginning as her island catches the eye of those who would do yet more evil.

Author Douglas Murphy has crafted a fantastic and suspenseful dark fantasy work which is sure to delight those who revel in layered narratives with ensemble casts and lashings of horror overlaid into the plot. The group of heroes had a kind of D&D atmosphere to them which I really enjoyed: a party of differing qualities, strengths, and weaknesses that band together well to take on the horrors which have befallen them. The worldbuilding around Theo is superb for its detailed involvement and consideration of wider factors, bringing to life a land that stretches far beyond the immediate action and certainly has scope for a lot more intrigue as the series continues. Theo herself was an excellently penned hero figure who still has room to grow. Overall, I would certainly recommend Umbral Ten to fans of dark fantasy, gritty action, and excellent atmospheric writing.

Foluso Falaye

Six people wake up in a monastery with no clue of what had happened after the Ceremony of Resonance had begun the previous day and why there are skeletons lying around everywhere. Nothing seems right; the monastery looks like it has been deserted for years, there are two moons instead of one, and there's a monster on the loose. The fate of the world and a town that is about to be wiped out by the Blood Moon Inquisition depends on an unlikely group: a holy knight, a young mage, a gifted librarian, a nun with a secret past, and two hired mercenaries. Umbral Ten is packed with surprises, with author Douglas Murphy infusing time travel, war, and magic and creating a beautiful and fantastic tale.

The first thing that really had me hooked in the first book of the Khaldaia Chronicles was how intricate and well thought out the worldbuilding is and how Douglas Murphy is able to skillfully craft a captivating story without having to skimp on the details. Elves, dwarves, spirit trees, pirates, and previously human beasts are all part of the mix. Even though priests and nuns are included, the religions illustrated in Umbral Ten are not conventional, and each one has a unique story about their origin. The discord between concepts of survival and morality adds to the realism of the story. Note that it contains moderate violence and some explicit language but no sexual content. I recommend Umbral Ten to fantasy lovers that wish to be completely immersed in a different, magical world. I can't wait for Book 2!

Lit Amri

“There is very little that unites all the races of Khaldaia. Perhaps the only thing that unites them is the desire to protect and nurture the Trees." In Umbral Ten (Khaldaia Chronicles, Book I) by Douglas Murphy, humans, elves, and dwarves consider the Spirit Trees sacred. Every 10 years, representatives from every race attend the Ceremony of Resonance where the Trees are renewed with holy power. One of them is located in the Starkwind Monastery's garden; the Tree of Mystery. Unfortunately, a terrible event occurs, and several individuals find themselves waking up with scattered memories, corpses around them, two moons in the sky, and an Incarnate-a beast that was once human-roaming the halls. The motley band of survivors needs to work together to stay alive and overcome the trouble that lurks in every corner.

Umbral Ten is a dark fantasy that has a combination of horror, magic, friendship, destiny, and adventure. The classic concept is balanced with an imaginative premise and the world-building consists of elements and beings that fantasy readers will love. The protagonists-Sun elf Theodosia 'Theo' Archmail, Holy Knight Ser Lance de Orleans, Sister Tamara, librarian Jakob Riordain, and mercenaries Rook and Snuffles-have an interesting dynamic as they are from different races with different duties and have different personalities that occasionally clash. Theo's is admirably a voice of reason for her eclectic comrades but I favor Tamara the most as I enjoyed her character development from start to finish. Filled with high stakes, engaging characters, and extraordinary magic, this is a good start for the Khaldaia Chronicles by Douglas Murphy.