Legacy of the Brightwash – Tainted Dominion #1 by Krystle Matar

Book Description

Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong?

Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack. 

Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions. 

Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her? 

Why was he the only one who cared?

Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?

My Review

I read a digital copy of Legacy of the Brightwash on my kindle.

I had heard a lot of great things about this book, from people whose opinions I value and usually listen to, and I finally decided to dive in, and I’m so glad that I did. The quality of this unputdownable debut novel is astounding and puts Krystle Matar on the list of people whose books I will be automatically on the lookout for.

The story takes place in a dangerously violent Victorian style city called Yaelsmuir, part of The Dominion, and concerns the fate and romantic relationship of Regulation Officer Tashué Blackwood as he falls in love with his neighbour, Stella Whiterock. Their love story, which builds and builds with so much yearning, is a beacon of hope for Tashué in an otherwise tragic life. It plays out against the backdrop of a damaged country reeling from war with many of the characters suffering from PTSD, loss of loved ones, loss of livelihood, or running from their past – everyone is struggling, in every conceivable way. Yaelsmuir is a powder keg of a city, there is always some form of trouble bubbling just below the surface and Tashué seems to usually end up in the thick of things, injured and bleeding. He is a brave hero, no longer scared to throw himself into a fight to protect those he loves. He learned that lesson after letting the Regulation Authority take away his son Jason, when Jason refused to register his Talent with the Authority – something Tashué will never be able to forgive himself for.

The Regulation Authority is at the top of this society – people with special powers known as Talent have to register with them, and the Authority then decides the best fate for them – whether it is sending them to The Rift, a kind of prison on an island in the Brightwash, like Tashué’s son Jason, or to the Breeding program, where talented women such as Jason’s mother are forced to breed with Talented men and create babies with Talent for the service of society. People without Talent refer to the Talented as ‘tainted’ and tend to treat the tainted as inferior individuals despite the fact that they have amazing powers that help run society, such as healing, taking away pain from those who are dying, powering trams, keeping lights lit, among other useful services.

In this grim world with its well-defined class system, the rich people seem to be the only ones thriving financially, and most of them are emotionally damaged beyond repair, but everyone must just keep going, keep the wheels of society turning despite how desolate they feel.

“We’re nothing but a great web of people only doing their jobs”

An attendant at the Breeding Program

Tashué is a tin man, an officer of the Regulation Authority, when we meet him. Up until now he has followed the letter of the law, since his mother brought him up to believe that this was the best way to stay safe in such a dangerous world:

“How was I suppose to know? My mother told me all my life follow the laws and you’ll be safe”

Tashué Blackwood

He is being dragged into politics and in so doing is entering the world of the aristocrats, starting to have his eyes opened and beginning to realise that everything he has been told and believed about the Regulation Authority may be completely wrong. These feelings are catalysed by the discovery of the corpse of a limbless, tattooed child washed up in the Brightwash. This horrifying mystery haunts him and he is compelled to investigate it even though it is not his job to do so. He feels that this outrage would be swept under the carpet if he doesn’t do something. The more he investigates, the deeper into the mire he finds himself, with more shocking and outrageous discoveries along the way. His rose-tinted spectacles are well and truly ripped from his face as the reality of the society in which he lives becomes unveiled to him. The Talented are being exploited everywhere Tashué looks, now that his eyes have been opened. His Talented son has been more aware of the real situation for much longer than him:

“That’s the thing about the Authority. If we don’t march in line, they throw us aside and find someone else to fill the gaps. It doesn’t mean a damned thing to them when we don’t do what they want. We’re all disposable.”

Jason Blackwood

The characters of this story are heartbreakingly damaged, physically scarred and written so well by Matar that you become fully invested in their lives and need a box of tissues on hand as you read and discover more about them (or maybe a few boxes). Even the side characters are given believable and detailed backstories. It is a grimdark epic fantasy with shocking themes, but so much heart! I defy anyone that reads this book not to be affected by it. Oh, and just in case you have not been emotionally damaged enough by the story – it ends on a killer of a cliffhanger! Bring on the sequel, Brick and Bone, soon please!

About the Author

Krystle Matar has been writing for a long time, but things got serious when Tashué Blackwood walked into her life, an amber-eyed whirlwind.

When she isn’t arguing with him or any of his friends, she parents and farms. She has a lot of children and even more animals and one very excellent husband.

She is currently working on lots of stories set in the Dominion. She expects to exist in this universe for a while.

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2 thoughts on “Legacy of the Brightwash – Tainted Dominion #1 by Krystle Matar

  1. Pingback: The Quick Fire Fantasy Book Tag – Sue's Musings

  2. Pingback: End of the 2021 update – reading and writing | Sue's Musings

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