The world is in the grasp of the God of Chaos, his only mantra: Do as Thou Wilt. In the slums of Tuilar, Dirge is an apprentice to the Brotherhood of Assassins who worship the god of Death. His only friend Jacob, a jovial young man, feels at home in the world as it is, but Dirge craves structure.
When Chaos orchestrates the Cleansing, a mass slaughter of children, people stand up against him. Amid the revolt, the prophet of the forgotten God of Order appears. Drawn to the ways of Order, Dirge finds himself at odds with those who raised him. The gods of Chaos, Death, and Order clash, their followers facing off in bloody battle, and Dirge must decide whether to honor his adopted family or the calling to his heart. Jacob believes they should stay out of the fray, wanting nothing to do with any of it.
Hope and honor are Dirge’s shield as he wallows in uncertainty and remorse. The gods are at play, and the world is their game board. How can Dirge choose when men and gods alike are deceitful? The decision he makes may well damn him.
Alan Preece –
Cleansed, which is either the first book in a series or the second – depending on where you look – follows the exploits of Dirge, an Orphan who has been indoctrinated into a league of assassins at a young age. The world around Dirge is defined by the conflict between a variety of fundamentalist faith systems and when one of these, The Lord of Chaos, orders the murder of all first born as a sacrifice to it Dirge finds himself on a brutal course to defend the innocent.
However, all is not quite as it seems and Dirge’s journey is not a simple one.
To begin with I was not all that impressed with G. S. Scott’s Cleansed, probably due mainly to Scott’s choice to begin his tale very early in Dirge’s life and leaving me with three or four chapters in which very little seemed to happen. I didn’t take much from these chapters and it seemed to me that starting later and essentially jumping into the action sooner would have been a better option, perhaps telling the earlier episodes in flashback, but this was not to be.
I persevered and was glad that I did. Once the story begin to come together it comes together rather well, with interesting characters and an increasingly shifting story where no one is clearly heroes or villains.
The narration was done by the usually very reliable Sean Duregger and for the first time I was in two minds about his performance with Cleansed. Usually I like his narrations a great deal but in this case I found it a little grating in parts. This was mainly due to the accents he used for many of the characters. I have to say here that I am English and in my job I routinely have meetings with people from all over the UK, so I am used to a variety of British accents (in addition to having my own of course) and none of Sean’s accents seemed quite right to my ear and it was only when I consistently reminded myself that this was set in an alternative fantasy land, with inhabitants who just happened to have British sounding accents, that I managed to get past it.
I imagine the vast majority of listeners will not be bothered by this in the slightest, and many will be impressed with it as Sean does quite an impressive range of accents for this tale, as well as many different characters. So I think it likely that most will disagree with my thoughts concerning his use of accents, and they may be right to; as on a second listen I may even disagree with myself!
Overall Cleansed was a good experience, far better than I imagined it being and well worth your time if you enjoy dark fantasy stories. I liked it enough that I would listen to further stories in the series, and it has even made me consider seeking out something similar to read in the future in a genre I usually do not read; which to me sounds like an endorsement!