Banewreaker is the first novel of Jacqueline Carey’s sundering epic tragedy. Seven shapers created the present races of beings on the body of Uru-Alat. The story mentions all of the shapers in regard to their gifts, birth, and created children, but the three most important are Haomane First-Born, Lord of Thought creator of the Ellylon, Arahila Second-born, the fair, creator of Men, and Satoris Third-born, the sower, creator of none. Haomane gifted his Ellylon with thought and eschewed the gifts of all his brethren save Arahila who gifted them with love. Arahila’s children were touched by time thus she asked not only for the gift of thought for her children but the gift of sowing. Mankind, Children of Arahila were lesser shapers themselves and changed the world to their liking, they bred quickly and soon out paced the timeless Ellylon. Haomane disliked this and demanded thrice that his younger brother Satoris stripe the gift of sowing from Arahila’s children. Satoris, in his pursuit of education saw what would transpire should his gift be torn from the purview of man and refused. Thus did Haomane in his prideful rage bring war between the Shapers and their created children.
This story opens after the first conflicts of the shapers war. Six of the seven shapers are islanded away from their children and set with Haomane against Satoris, while wounded Satoris remains in the lands of man, vilified and loathed by most. Satoris angered at the cruelties he is blamed for and dismayed at the cost that the lesser beings are strapped with continues to refuse his eldest brother’s desire and sets to defend himself.
Comparisons of this book to the J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings abound, but I think that it is a poorly done comparison. Satoris is labeled evil but his character does not show true evil intent. This cannot be said for the villains in the Lord of the Rings as they do seek true dominion and power over all creatures. Satoris seeks only to allow mankind to retain his blessing and to move through the world unmolested. It is true that he orders atrocities committed in this book, but they are no less justified than the atrocities committed by Haomane’s dutiful followers. In fact they are more justified, as he is the only one of the shapers willing to answer the questions of the lesser beings in full.
Haomane’s wizard seeks to bend the truth and leave gapping holes in reality in order to bend the minds of mankind to his desire. In the end, I think the answer to the premise is no, even if you are labeled evil, you are only as evil as your intent and actions. This book sets the stage for heartbreak, as truly the likeable characters are not those billed as wholly good.