The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner

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I received this as a review request, it may appeal to those who like space opera. I listened to it on audible so my spelling may be off.

r/fantasy Bingo

  • Indie Published
  • Under 2500 GR 
  • Space Opera


Hello Malazan fans, are you also into sci fi? If so, this may be your kind of thing. I skimmed through reviews after picking it up because I needed to be sure that I wasn’t the only one mystified by what was going on at around 15%. If you read through the reviews on Goodreads, most of them will mention that the plotline is hard to follow and doesn’t “hand hold”, often being described as a “difficult read”.  You’re thrown into a fully realized world and you’re given little explanation for a number of places, people, and timelines. I think audiobook was the wrong choice for this, I usually fly through audiobooks, but for this one, I had to go back and listen a few times to certain parts to understand what was going on, and it’s just one of those books where audio would be great for a re-read.

The book starts out in Progue in the year 1319 with someone named Aaron who comes up again in a storyline that’s 12,000 years in the future. He’s named the “Longlived” and in the future, he’s trying to win over the throne of the Amaranthians.

The Amaranthians are the leaders of all the subspecies of humans that have emerged over the last 12,000 years. The different subspecies are all called “prisms”, and there are 11 different subspecies. The Amaranthians have a king that’s going insane, he’s committing genocide and talks to himself frequently as if someone else is in the room. This isn’t uncommon for Amaranthians, many go insane the older they get and travel to a place called Eutopia to live out the last years of their lives. The Amaranthians are called ‘immortals’, although they do die, it takes thousands of years for them to get to that point.

There’s a new machine that’s been invented by one of the protagonists, a prism species called the Vulgar, and this new machine is highly coveted and word spread quickly about its existence – many different factions of prism are trying to steal it, and it passes from one hand to the next as it’s usurped by one group or another. It’s just referred to as “The Machine” for a large portion of the book so you don’t really know what it is.

Final Score: 12.25/15


Lycaste is a younger Melian prism who’s pretty much a social outcast by choice, he doesn’t like being around people and would prefer to be left alone to his model building. He likes to build models of castles and other buildings in his spare time, it helps him think as well as relaxes him. He’s besotted with a woman who doesn’t return his feelings. I didn’t know what was going on here at first, but it looks like that woman was sexually assaulted and doesn’t want to pursue any relationship at the moment. But, he’s pretty persistent and doesn’t understand why she can’t be in a relationship with him. He’s famed for his beauty and people come from all different providences just to see him, to see if the rumors are true. He’s had a number of suitors come looking for marriage as well but isn’t interested in anyone but Penta. He eventually has to flee his home on the run from the law, and has to find a way to get away without getting caught.

Sotiris is a 12,000-year-old Cypriote prism and is more of a serious person, he is grieving the loss of his sister. She went mad and went to Eutopia and died in a drowning accident. There are a lot of flashbacks to modern day times through his POV, and a lot of it gives some backstory to Aaron, the one who’s trying to take the throne. He’s also arachnophobic and paranoid about dying via accident. It’s one of the most common ways for an Amaranthian to die since they don’t age or get sick.  He’s much more of an egalitarian than most of his prism. He doesn’t treat Melian’s poorly just because he can, and he’s probably the character I liked the most.

Aaron the Long Life was old when most of the eldest of the Amaranthians were children themselves. He’s an enigma and no one knows where he came from or what his true species is, there are many who don’t think he’s an Amaranthian, or even a human.

There are a few minor POV characters that were in and out like Merril and Corfuso, but those were the major characters.

Final Score: 10.5/15

World Building:

The world building in this is ridiculously complex, and I was trying my best to take notes along with the audiobook. It’s set in multiple time periods, on multiple worlds, and they all seem to be totally separate at first.

The book starts out in 1319 as an alternative history, there’s mention of King Edward of England and the Roman empire. This is where you’re first introduced to Aaron, the long lived.

Lycaste is living in a cove in the Mediterranean sea, back on the Old World, which is Earth. He’s a Melian prism, and on the Old World there are at least 18 different Providences which each have their own language, culture, and belief system. The First Providence is where the ruling class live, and I think that the level of importance is correlated to what providence you live in. The Second Providence also has the elite noble class, and their language is considered to be a close cousin of the ruling class of the First Providence. Lycaste lives in the Tenth Providence, there are only 315 people living in that part of the world, and they mostly keep to themselves. Travelers and strangers are rare, and usually gawked over and fawned upon when they arrive. There are a lot of fish, tropical weather, fruit, and beaches. It’s a rather calming environment and since Lycaste is a calm and cautious person those chapters were rather relaxing. There are a sentient bird species that live on the island and help out Lycos with a lot of household upkeep, they’re considered people since they’re able to talk and have the normal gambit of human emotion. The Melians are a giant species, reaching 10 ft tall, the Amaranthians think of them as an intelligent ‘pet’, most don’t treat them with any sort of respect.

The Black Rainforest is what Corphuso is trudging through in the beginning of his arc. There’s no difference between light and day, and there are predators lurking in the forest picking off members of his group. They all have to tie themselves together so no one accidentally gets lost. It’s hot, it’s muggy, and it’s full of fungus.

The Threen are the prism subspecies that’s suffered the most. They are a tall prism species, almost as tall as the Melians. They are lanky and almost look childlike with huge round eyes that can see better in the dark than any other prism species. They lick themselves clean with long tongues and have a strange creol language – most people consider them to be the most primitive of the prism species, and due to a debt from long ago, they serve the Amaranthians as slaves.

Other than the Threen, the Baphoon prism is one of the most stepped upon. They have been bred for hundreds of years to be servants to the Amaranthians.

There have been prism species that have been wiped out as a response to an attack on the Amaranthians.

Amaranthians, or the “immortals” can live for up to 12,000 years, before going insane most likely caused from living far beyond what’s normal for a human species. The Amaranthians travel to a place called Eutopia when they hit this cycle in their life, it’s where men and women go after they’ve gone insane due to living for so long. Amaranthians eventually stop ageing sometimes being stuck looking as young as 22.

There were some odd things mentioned about homosexuality, “I believe that a man can not love another man, it’s a perversion”. I don’t know how much I buy into the fact that homosexuality would still be treated like this 12,000 years in the future. I would sincerely hope not. There was a counter voice to that opinion, but I find it odd there would even be an argument.

Final Score: 11/15


It’s hard for me to place a tone on this one, it’s not exactly light hearted, it’s not dark either, it’s just sort of tense. There’s a lot of tension between the different species of humans, and with the upcoming fued over the throne for the Amaranthians everything is set on edge.

The writing is very descriptive, but not a lot of simile and metaphor. It paints a rather vivid picture without being overly flowery. I listened to it on audiobook, so I can’t say much about spelling and grammar. The audiobook was good, it’s not the best narrator I’ve ever heard, but it didn’t bore me and it’s far from the worst that I’ve heard.

Final Score: 11/15


The pacing in the beginning is a very, very slow burn. It’s not something you can read quickly, the author expects you to be paying attention to the details so you’re able to keep up with what’s going on. There are a lot of characters, places, and timezones introduced all at once and it’s a lot to take in. I was about 35% in before I started to get the hang of who was who and why they were important to the story. It took about 50% for me to start finding it going at a faster pace, for a lot of Lycaste’s beginning there wasn’t a lot going on, it was focused on character and world development.

Final Score: 8/15


This is a pretty original book, it took on so much all at once it was hard to keep up. I liked the split of species, once I got the hang of all of their names and where they live and where they stand in the political upheaval.

Final Score: 12/15

Personal Enjoyment:

This was a very ambitious debut novel, there was a lot going on. There was a lot to like about what was happening with the world building and plot. I wasn’t so keen on the characters though, I never do well with one-sided romance plots, so a lot of Lycaste’s lamenting over someone who doesn’t love him back took away from the story for me. But, a lot of people don’t mind that, so it’s not a flaw with the book per se. I did really like the world building, especially all the alien planets.  I think it was a wise choice not adding alien species into the books, it would have made things even more exponentially complicated, but an alien fauna would have been nice (everything living in the galaxy has been transplanted from Earth). I’m a pretty firm believer in that there’s some form of life somewhere on one of these trillions of planets, even if it’s just microbial. The total lack of alien life outside our planet, although it sets an interesting tone, was kind of a bummer. I like aliens 🙂

Final Score: 6.25/10


For People who like:

  • Space Opera
  • Multi POV
  • humans evolved into different species
  • settings far in the future (12,000 years)
  • epic scale
  • extensive world building

Final Score: 71/100 (3.55/5 stars on GR)



  1. I LOVED this book. (After initially being very confused, having to re-start and take notes haha!) Got the second one ready and will have to read it at some point soon.

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