Realm of Essences, no. 1
Francis W. Porretto
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Louis Redmond is the second child of working-class parents in Onteora County, in the depressed heartland of New York. From his teens, he proves to be a prodigy: brilliant, powerful, great-souled, and driven to achieve as no other man can.
Louis grows to manhood strong in body, mind and conscience. Though tragedy dogs his steps, and mischances deprive him of family and friends, he becomes a pillar of Onteora society. In overcoming the challenges he faces, he transforms the world -- and the people -- around him without even noticing.
Onteora pastor Father Heinrich Schliemann, the only source of counsel Louis never loses, watches his maturation with fascination and fear. Louis is not only a wunderkind of the intellect. He is also a trailblazer of the spirit and a natural leader of men. Armies would follow him into the mouth of Hell.
With such power comes great danger. Part of it arises from the natural responses of ordinary men to excellence among their kind: the urge to batten and feed upon it, or the urge to crush it into the earth, until nothing remains to be envied. Louis's generosity, coupled to the selflessness he enforces upon himself to protect others from his immense powers, makes him more than usually vulnerable to both of these.
But Louis is watched over by one who knows all the ways of Man: Malcolm Loughlin, the fleshly incarnation of Justice and grandmaster of all things martial. As Loughlin, he's trained the great warriors of the world for two millennia, for a purpose all his own.
Loughlin seeks a replacement for himself for a mission which would cost him his life, both temporal and eternal: the pursuit, defeat, and annihilation of Tiran, the Essence of Envy, who has forced his way into our world from the Realm of Essences, where all abstractions find their embodiments. He seizes on Louis as the best conceivable candidate. After secretly monitoring Louis for several years, Loughlin approaches him and offers to train him, without disclosing what the training is intended to prepare him to do.
As time passes, Loughlin recognizes Louis as a being of surpassing excellence, and becomes ashamed of his intentions for the young champion. Ultimately, once he decides he can trust Louis with the great power he possesses, Loughlin renounces his plan to seduce Louis into being his stand-in, and remains as his mentor and protector.
But Louis's adventures are not over. His times and his trade guarantee him a steady stream of trials of his prowess, damaged souls to nurse, and moral crises to navigate. Loughlin can't help him with much of it. And Loughlin can't help him with his ultimate opponent -- spinal cancer -- at all.
Chosen One is Book One of the Realm of Essences trilogy, a supernatural fantasy combined with a contemporary tale of intrigue among the vicious and powerful. Book Two, On Broken Wings, is already available. The conclusion, Shadow Of A Sword, will be published late in 2011.