He was born to ascend.
He was destined to lead.
He was never meant to fail.
Prophet Cain lies broken and defeated on the floor of his cell. A cell he has been thrown into by the one person who was supposed to stand by his side until the end. His flesh and blood, his only companion. His beloved twin brother.
Cain has sacrificed everything for his people. He left the safety and security of his life of study to infiltrate the infamous Hades Hangmen. He lived with them, rode with them, and then betrayed them. All in the name of a faith he can now feel slipping away from him. Like everything else he once held dear…
But then his isolation is broken. Another prisoner is brought to the cell next to his. A woman fighting her own demons and fears. A woman who Cain understands needs him, as he needs her.
As the connection between them grows, so does Cain’s resolve. He will right the wrongs he has done. He will atone for the evil acts carried out in his name. He will save the one he loves…
… Even if the battle takes him to the gates of hell itself.
Contemporary Dark Romance. Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language, and mature topics. Recommended for age 18 years and up.
I want to start off this review by acknowledging that a lot of people are not going to agree with or understand Rider’s character and the story surrounding him. I’ve already seen a lot of negativity around the series, not to mention this book’s storyline. That being said, I want to take a minute to acknowledge the fact that The Order is, in basic terms, a cult. Most of us have not been deeply involved in such a group, so there’s no way to accurately determine what we would think or how we would act.
My review is based on trying to understand how a person involved in a cult-based group would think/feel/act/etc. This in no way means I condone any of the acts in this story which demean, abuse, or in anyway hurt innocent individuals. This is a completely different world and I will review based on my understanding of that world and how the characters are living there.
We met Rider in the previous Hangmen books, first as a spy, next as The Prophet, and lastly as a man. He had been raised in The Order and conditioned to believe a multitude of fallacies based on teachings supplied through his Uncle (a previous Prophet). Rider spent much of his life separated and sheltered from the actual practices of The Order. Upon rising as The Prophet, he heard rumors but was slow to believe them, as he trusted in the purity of his beliefs. The moment he witnessed that purity compromised, it was as if his world had been upended.
“They believed in our cause, one hundred percent. In their eyes I was a sinner that had been swayed by the devil. Maybe I was. I knew the devil was real. Panic whipped around me. Maybe I had fallen victim to evil. Maybe my soul was destined to burn in hell. I just didn’t know. As the questions circled my head, I realized that, in that moment, I didn’t even care.”
- Were his beliefs pure?
- Had he really been a part of furthering these horrific practices?
- What would happen if he couldn’t stop The Order?
Rider is a man who many would condemn as evil, hell he even condemns himself. “I had left the rulings to a delusional wanna God. That fault lied with me. I was as guilty as all sin. Maybe not directly, but in my eyes, that only made it worse.” Many would say he is in fact, not redeemable at all. Myself? I’d have to almost agree. When I think about the word “redeem,” I think of compensating for your faults and regaining your standing. I’m not sure if that can ever truly be done in the case of something so awful as the practices of this cult. But, perhaps, he can redeem someone else?
There’s not much to say that wouldn’t give away some intricate part of the plot, but I have to say that the story felt reasonable. In a situation as complex and horrific as this, there can be no absolution — no way to completely free yourself from the chains of guilt or blame. I feel that the characters accurately reflected that. “A man who would risk everything to atone for his sins to such a degree … a man who would sacrifice himself so others could live deserves to be saved. How can you not see that? How can you be so cold?”
The story was dark. Be prepared to doubt whether you can make it through. You’re going to cry, be outraged, probably feel a sense of violence toward certain characters, your heart will break, you’ll find hope, you’ll lose hope …
You will see the worst sides of human behavior, but ultimately you will find that to survive something like this can never be truly understood except for those who did the surviving.