*BOOK REVIEW* Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson
‘Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?’
Visions of Zarua tells the story of Paddren, an apprentice wizard who must find the killer of his Master, Kalesh, and the motives behind it. Cue Nagras, brooding, assassin’s and strained relationships, oh, there’s a boat load of magic as well. Score!
This book starts out feeling like a Raymond E. Feist novel, the apprentice wizard, the tracker, and their friendship. What is different is the immediate death of a powerful player, and one who is extremely close to our main character, Paddren. Master Kalesh dies in a way that is heart-breaking for Paddren (and the reader) and leaves more questions than answers; this starts of the adventure that leads to the ancient city of Zarua. but before we get there, there’s quite a bit in store…
Paddren is a character that I struggled to connect with at first, his secrecy – even from the reader – left me feeling a little cold towards him. however, he does warm throughout the novel and his motives, and knowledge, become very clear. Paddren has a connection to an ancient wizard, Jago, who was a key player in Zarua centuries before, and he’s actually one of the coolest characters in the book, I would love to read more about him!
Varnia is Paddren’s best friend and extremely skilled tracker. Now Varnia was a strange one for me; like Paddren she is hard to warm to, but unlike Paddren, I never really got a feel for her. I found myself not caring whether she died or not (don’t worry, no spoilers) and that indifference is worse than disliking a character. I found Varnia to be frustrating and overly broody, and I found myself wishing that she hadn’t bene brought along on the adventure.
Leyoch is Varnia’s lover, and a very skilled fighter, he didn’t get as much time on the page as Varnia and, to be honest, I wish they’d swapped roles. I really liked Leyoch and he comes into his own once the steel starts clashing, he’s a warrior and he’s noble, i quite liked that in a world that had a lot of darkness.
The magic system is explored really well in this book and I love the old magic school trope that is hearkened back to through Paddren’s connection to Jago. There is sacrificial magic that lays the foundation for the motives behind both sides of this battle. The darkness of the magic is never far away from the main trio, and even closer than some of them may think.
So, is it worth reading?!
Damn straight it is! Rogerson writes with an experienced hand, the world is interesting, the characters are provoking, and the evil is, actually, EVIL! Because, without a truly bad guy/gal, what’s the point?!
A definite read for any fantasy lover!
Where to find Suzanne;
Where to find Visions of Zarua