Title: Khalarea the Fallen
Series Title: Tales of Yagath
Author: Claus Augustus Corbett
Date Added: April 3, 2016
Date Started: September 19, 2016
Date Finished: October 2, 2016
Years ago, a name was heard inside of long-forgotten ruins, and since then Astir Runia, a Calanthoren bard, has been traveling the known world searching for a truth buried by thousands of years of human history. What shadows does the name Khalarea cast now on her world? Even though she can’t answer that, Astir is finally ready to share the legend of Khalarea the Fallen with her friend, Lokart. As she makes her way to their meeting, she wonders how he’ll react to the legend, and what connection this legend has to the boy they rescued in those same ruins. Still, what weights more on her mind is not the legend in itself, but rather other texts she found during her journey, and which may point to a truth that might be even darker than they expected.
I wish I could recall who recommended this book to me. It’s someone I met online, and the recommendation came about as we were discussing content warnings and whatnot. She (I believe the person is female) said that her author friend took the chance to make less sales by putting a content warning on one of his books. I was impressed by this and sought him out, buying the first book in the series for my efforts. The warning doesn’t occur until the second book The Scarlet Mantle, which I didn’t finish, but not due to the warning. Rather it suffers from narrative structure issues such as not establishing an integral relationship prior so when the characters met in the story, it resembled a poorly executed deus ex machina and far too convenient for the plot.
Khalarea the Fallen was…interesting. It’s a meta story, a tale within a tale, following the lay of Astir Runia as she relates information discovered about Khalarea to her companion Lockart. As I read ( and it didn’t take a long time since it’s only a 30 page short) I started getting that all too familiar tingle of familiarity that comes when a story shares motofs with Final Fantasy VII. Usually, these are things that are just common fantasy tropes that, while I can tie a thread between them, are hardly unique to FFVII (or the story in question) and could therefore only serve as two examples of the same paradigm. However, when there are a multitude of similarities, I can’t help but take notice and note.
This came upon me fairly slowly for such a minute tale, but I raised only half a brow when Corbett describes Lokart’s eyes. They have a blue/green glow that’s associated with some special ability. This could be an example of the fore mentioned since glowing eyes are a common fantasy trope (ASOIAF uses them, too, in order to denote something else, something darker has taken over. The same could be argued for FFVII, as well. This will be discussed in later essays), so I didn’t think too much of it.
Then on the next page Astir and Lockart discuss the process of “destroying spirits’ consciousness in such a manner that they can’t put themselves together again,” but that it’s “impossible to destroy consciousness” as “it would simple rearrange itself” unless you break it down into separate parts and trap them away from the other. This sounds a hell of a lot like the Reunion or rather an attempt to prevent it from occurring.
However, this was nothing to the next page, which made me put down my phone and walk away. I’ll quote verbatim.
“…it describes Khalarea as a human who tried to surpass what the authors call the one true god and went mad.”
“When a spirit – or a person, for that matter – is too far consumed by pain, fear, anger, or emotions of this sort, they lose touch with themselves. They literally go mad, which then turns into a process of self-corruption, usually ending only when that spirit is destroyed beyond recognition and only its essence remains. With people, that might be physical death, or sometimes it takes more than death to cure it.”
Next Runia talks about how Khalarea’s mother was from the sky (…alien?) while his father was from below the sea, and apparently his mother did something when he was in the womb to make him special. Yeah…
I know I can often be accused of chasing one-winged shadows, but it’s hard to ignore when they’re looming over your head. Looking in the author’s background, I discovered (per his bio on Goodreads) that he’s “an avid consumer of fantasy media – books, games, TV series, movies… – and long-time RPG player, he has now decided to take it to the next level and start sharing stories of Yagath, and world that was originally idealized for his RPG adventures.”
I don’t know if the RPGs referenced are the D&D/tabletop type or the Final Fantasy/videogame type, nor do I know what similarities lie between them since I’m not really much of a D&D player (I played a bare bit in my youth, but not enough to really speak of), and the only reason I have an interest in it now is due to Stranger Things, which interestingly enough I’ve already discussed as having VII similarities.
In any regard, Mr. Corbett obviously took his experiences with gaming (and other media) and used it to craft a story with similar motifs to an iconic game. If this was done on purpose, it caught the attention of someone prone to notice it. If it was merely a coincidence or rather due to these paradigms’ prevalence in the zeitgeist, there were still enough of them to warrant remark. This is not remotely a critique. I’d be a hypocrite to do so. It’s merely an observation searching for explanation.
Khalarea is a serviceable and quick story that does a bit too much telling for my liking, but it was still a fast read and interesting enough to hold my attention for the 30 pages it lasted. I’m not sure if I would’ve enjoyed it were it longer. The ideas presented in the tale were compelling, and I’d enjoy other installments that flesh them and their implications out. For example weaker conjurer’s could have their soul’s suppressed in order to create a (seemingly) empty vessel for another, more experienced magician to fill. The implications of this are horrifying if you are the one who’s soul is suppressed. Would you still be inside your now used body fighting for control? This is another paradigm that speaks to FFVII. The short presented many of this terrifying scenarios alongside expressing how Khalarea was pretty much a golden child, savior motif who was also the leader of an elite army *sigh*
I feel like I’ve spent the entirety of this review talking about Final Fantasy VII (clearly it’s a day that ends in a ‘Y’), but it’s really difficult not to when the tropes in the story align so well. Khal was a sympathetic character (as I’ve made another out to be) in that this life was thrust upon him. I’m not sure if it was for him to serve the one true god or become the one true god, though I think the latter might have become his personal goal, though with this soul suppression idea a factor, who knows if what someone wants is really their desire (…seriously, more VII stuff). The final page of the short brings it back to that horrifying paradigm I presented above, and Khal is probably the most powerful being of all…even after death.
I’d recommend this if you want a quick foray into the world of Yagath, and if you’re familiar with FFVII, you’ll see many similar concepts.