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*BOOK REVIEW* Faithless by Graham Austin-King

*BOOK REVIEW* Faithless by Graham Austin-King

‘The temples of the Forgefather have fallen. The clerics and defenders that could once be found across the nine lands are no more. Priests huddle in the great temple, clinging to the echoes of their lost religion. But the Father has fallen silent. There are none who still hear his voice.

The mines of Aspiration lie far below the temple’s marble halls. Slaves toil in the blackness, striving to earn their way into the church and the light. Wynn has been sold into this fate, traded for a handful of silver. In the depths of the mines, where none dare carry flame, he must meet his tally or die. But there are things that lurk in that darkness, and still darker things within the hearts of men.

When the souls bound to the great forge are released in a failed ritual, one novice flees down into the darkness of the mines. The soulwraiths know only hunger, the risen know only hate. In the blackest depths Kharios must seek a light to combat the darkness which descends.’

Faithless tells the story of Wynn, a farmer’s son who is ‘sold’ to a nearby temple where he becomes an ‘Aspirant’; someone who is bound to the mines below the temple, working day-to-day to mine the metals forged by the priests in the temple. Also there is the story of Kharios, a boy who has passed his ‘test’ and has advanced to become a novice but is then disgraced and is returned to the mines. Their stories intertwine and the secrets of the religion are revealed.

‘Faithless’ is a book of fantasy and religion and these are intertwined with the ‘world’ that is created by the author; and it’s a unique world. The story takes place in two places; Aspiration, and the Temple and this is rare for a fantasy novel. usually a lot of time is spent building a gigantic world however the author focuses on the characters that operate within their world.

Aspiration is a place of toil and darkness, populated by miners and their crews. Despite being an underground town, Aspiration has a social stratum, bottomed by the ‘Blackers’; those who mine coal, and is topped by the ‘Gilter’ crews; those who mine gold. Aspiration is controlled by the Sefin, a guy who rules with Martial Law. Those who do not make ‘Tally’ (their monthly quota) are sentenced to lashes, those who are subordinate or rebellious are sentenced to death. There are members of Aspiration who are not happy with the regime and so seek to rebel, leading to a nice side-story.

Within Aspiration there are many ‘crews’ and they are tasked with mining the different metals that are needed for use in the Temple. And it’s here that a lot of the story happens as the reader is introduced to a whole host of colourful characters. One of my favourite parts of the book is the dialogue between the crew members.

Faithless is kinda strange in so far as, for the first 70% of the book, very little actually happens in terms of real action, but I still found myself wanting to read more and that was because of the relationships created by the author. The style of writing also lends itself to easy reading, it did not get bogged down in page-long descriptions of a table or some other such pretentiousness, the conversations are direct and the descriptions are practical.

The characters in Faithless are built well, they each have a purpose and are not too many that you can’t remember who is who. The main character, Wynn, brings a sense of naivety to proceedings and is at stark contrast to the rest of the grizzled folk of Aspiration. This works especially well as a foundation for Wynn’s character as an aspirant and gives him a real low starting point to his character arc.

My favourite character was Father Ossan, a real piece of work who has alternative motives behind the boys he chooses to be his novices. Father Ossan is the key to finding the secrets of the lost religion, and to his own surprise, the darkness within the mines is revealed.

There is a reveal at the end of the book and the real fantasy element comes to the fore through this. Overall I enjoyed the book and think that the characters are very strong, also it was excellently written. The world created by the author is dark, claustrophobic and ultimately fitting with the theme. For me, the final third of the book was its weakest, the story seemed to wain slightly and when the souls are released, it smacked too much of cliché for me. The action was written well and horror sequences worked but I couldn’t help but feel it was anti-climactic.

Faithless is a good book written by a good author but has some flaws that hold it back from being great. 3.5/5

Where to find the author:

website: grahamaustin-king.com

Goodreads

Twitter

Where to find Faithless:

Amazon

Waterstones

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of Faithless for review.

Thank you for reading, please feel free to comment, share, and like 🙂

DC

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*YA BOOK REVIEW* Spellslinger (Spellslinger #1) by Sebastien De Castell

*YA Book Review* Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell

‘There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.

Magic is a con game.

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…’

Spellslinger tells the story of Kellen, a young mage who hasn’t yet sparkedhis ‘bands’; the key to channelling and controlling the six different forms of Jan’Tep magic. Kellen’s family are one of the most powerful Jan’Tep clans and his younger sister is a prodigy, which adds to his feelings of inadequacy. Kellen meets Ferius Parfax, an Argosi wanderers who introduces him to a different kind of magic and to the secrets of his people.

Spellslinger is a book that I really enjoyed, it was fast-paced, original, and didn’t get too caught up in the usual YA tropes. I mean, it does include them, obviously, for example, awkward love interest, bullies seemingly around every corner, and a young boy who has lost his friends and is a little different to everyone else. Cliché right? Wrong. What the author has done is created a YA book that focuses less on these stereotypes, and has channelled the story through Kellen’s intelligence.

As I mentioned above, there is an awkward love interest angle within the story but it is very minimal, and only used when it should be. One of the main gripes I have about modern YA is the constant focus on the lone solo hero who is crazy in love with another character but can’t seem to find the words, and so on, and so forth. For me, the author has included it but has kept it appropriate, no overly done mushy nonsense.

One of my favourite things about Spellslinger is the world that has been created by the author. Whilst the focus is on the Jan’Tep people, there are constant hints throughout to other countries, specifically Daroman and its ‘Fat King’. I like the fact that this this whole world can be introduced subtly throughout the novel without re-shifting focus or taking away from the tale being told of Kellen.

The Jan’Tep people are powerful, proud, and, ultimately, elitist. The author manages to story the people and give the reader a good picture of Jan’Tep society before introducing conflicting views and sowing doubt in the reader’s mind. This works brilliantly and I was drawn in almost immediately to the story and the intrigue.

Before reading Spellslinger, I had found myself growing increasingly despondent with the bulk of YA available at the moment. To archetypal and too (dare I say it) girly (I know, misogynistic pig right here). What I mean by that is, I was finding that I couldn’t relate to the female antagonist, particularly within this genre, and it was causing me to miss out on a boat load of good writing and good books. However, every now and then I find a gem, and this is certainly one of them.

The writing is soo smooth that I found myself racing through the book and cutting through 100 pages a night, after work!! Almost unheard of recently for me but honestly, it flowed so well and was just FUN! I loved the characters, even those that I couldn’t actually like, and I think it was one helluva series-starter.

In order to provide some balance and to ensure I don’t use 700 words just purely gushing over the book (which would be easy to do) I have thought about a few things that I didn’t like. The first is the sometimes over-brooding of Kellen. YeahI get it, he’s a 15-year-old boy who hasn’t found his place in society because he can’t use his magic and is jealous of his sister. But, it could have been toned down slightly in places, to the point where I found myself getting annoyed with him.

Another factor that I didn’t like was Kellen’s constant attempts to spark his bands, when in actual fact, you just knew it would fail. I felt that this could have been done once or twice, just not too much and the author flirted with it a little too long for me.

Other than the two notes above, I can’t actually think of anything else. And to be fair, the things I don’t like may be down to the genre itself and not so much the author. Just a thought though.

So, to summarise, this book is flipping fantastic (I debated on using another f-based curse word but decided against it). It’s got cool-as-hell magic, a cracking antagonist (as well as a few intriguing others), and a whole lot of originality about it.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone that reads fantasy, there’s something here for pretty much every reader. The best thing is that the second book Shadowblack is already out (and added to my pile!!!!) so you can dive straight back in!

A very firm 4.5/5 for me and a newfound love for the fantasy YA genre. Thanks Mr De Castell, you Canadian-connoisseur-of-fantasy you!

 

Where to find the author:

Website: decastell.com

Twitter: @decastell

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SebastienDeCastell/

Where to find Spellslinger;

Amazon

B&N

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my review of Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell. If you liked the review, please like, share, and do whatever else it is you crazy cats do.

🙂

DC

*BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW* Discoucia by Nicholas Lovelock

*BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW* Discoucia by Nicholas Lovelock

Discoucia: A Victorianish Fairytale
‘Revolution, romance and technological wonders are all in a day’s work for the decorated hero of Alavonia, Sir Arthur Pageon.

An acclaimed explorer and inventor, Sir Arthur Pageon takes his unofficial role as defender of the realm of Alavonia very seriously. A fantastical world, Alavonia is home to the Discoucian Monarchy, as well as monstrous creatures and secretive academies for the highly gifted.
Upon returning from his most recent exploits aboard on his personal flying galleon The Nostradamus, Pageon is treated to a hero’s welcome and celebratory procession through the streets of Alavonia’s capital, Evermore. Little does Pageon know he’s being followed by a mysterious group known as the Purple Guard, whose devious leader is his estranged sister, Queen Lily Pageon of Harrha Island. Fiercely intelligent, Lily specialises in dastardly technological inventions with the aim of bringing down the Discoucian Monarchy so that she may reign as its dictator. However, the heir to the throne is one Princess Josephine Olandine, whose youth and royal position masks her role in the Discoucian Secret Service.

Joining forces, Princess Josephine and Sir Arthur’s adventures will take them across the whole of Alavonia — from the fog-bound shores of Karga, to the secret underground shanty town beneath the frozen prison of Icester, south to the verdant city of Proceur and from there to the affluent Starfall Academy — in their quest to foil Lily’s revolutionary plans.’

First of all let me just say, this book is  a little bonkers! But that’s what makes it so unique. The characters bounce off each other really well and the author has a good grasp of what he wants from each character in each scene which makes for interesting reading.

One thing about this novel that will make itself clear yo the reader from the very first page is the author’s style of writing. It’s quite frenetic and almost un-punctuated – obviously it isn’t but still feels like it. This isn’t to the point of excess or tot he extreme of being unnecessary but it does take some getting used to. The dialogue is delivered quickly and incorporates even the smallest of small talk, again, something that takes a little getting used to. Once you’ve read the first 100 pages or so, you start to get a real feel for the author’s writing and style, at this point the book becomes sooo much better!

The characters throughout the book are varied and fun, they also have detailed back stories which help when identifying and rooting for them. the author has done this well and I found myself caring about the characters and what happened to them, an absolute must for me as a reader. My favourite character though was Sir Arthur Pageon, he’s a real beauty. I found him to be funny’ quirky, and the type of character every book should have. His relationship with Princess Josephine is great and the author does a good job of contrasting their personalities.

The real gem within this book, for me, is the world created by the author (he was also kind enough to do a a guest post for me about his process of world building, you can read it here). Alavonia is a world that just feels absolutely massive and has places like “Icester” that just feel so British but also so…fantastical(?) it is just brilliant. Alavonia has a lot more to give and hopefully the author will write more within this world in the future.

There is a slight steampunk theme throughout the book and the mot glaring is the flying galleon, The Nostradamus, that is owned by Sir Arthur. Overall though, this is not overbearing and doesn’t rely on trying to market itself to this niche, it’s just about right.

I liked this book and I think there are a lot of readers out there who have been waiting to read something like this.

About the author: Based in a small village in Oxfordshire Nicholas Lovelock is the author of the Alavonia series. As well as a passion for history, Nick holds a keen interest in Numismatics —the study and collection of coins, banknotes and medals— counting a 200 year-old 1826 half-crown and coinage of monarchs like Queen Anne, Elizabeth the First and Henry the Eighth as part of his collection.

 

 

Thanks for reading, I hoped you enjoyed this stage of the blog tour for Discoucia. Please comment on and share this post if you enjoyed it. And remember that every time you share, you’re not just helping out a lowly blogger, but also an author who’s spent a load of time creating/developing/nurturing their story.

Thank you

Danny

This is not a drill!! Oathbringer is here! (Well, soon)

This is not a drill! Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive Book Three) by Brandon Sanderson is now available to preorder!

It has a release date of November 16th 2017 and is sure to be the fantasy book of the year. Oh yeah, I’ve called it!

There is no blurb released for it yet but I know that it is going to blow my head off! I don’t get this excited often but now I know that Christmas has been rescheduled for November; I am now!

If you haven’t read the first two books, nay, TOMES, they are absolutely fantastic and a must read for any fantasy lover! Get involved, you won’t be disappointed.

The link to preorder the book is here

The countdown starts NOW!

ENJOY 😊

Building New Worlds and Writing in a Different Time by Nicholas Lovelock

The blog tour for Discoucia, a Victorianish Fairytale, started on 10th July (YAY!) and for my part – as well as providing a review – I requested a guest article on world building and writing in a different time, and guess what?! Mr Lovelock duly obliged and put together a great piece with mountains (literally) of sound advice! See below…

Building New Worlds and Writing in a Different Time

It may not seem like much of a task to create a world out of imagination as many of us go through this scenario on a daily basis, but to make a truly believable world an awful lot of work must go in.

Using my world of Alavonia as an example, you begin with a name that you will use throughout your narrative and from there you move to continents or countries. Alavonia is a planet four times the size of Earth and has 11 main continents. They are Discoucia, Lesiga, Neo Firmania, Tela Bilega, Caparonia, The Fire Islands, Capari, Insatia, Colsolia, The Ice Islands and Immoratia.

This works like Inception, as you have to go further in at every step. You have the world, and now you have the continent. For this we shall use Discoucia itself which has sixteen main counties, all with different identities and customs. They are Evermore, Elowe, Yande, Fina, Ervie, Icester, Adlin, Ashin, Chene, Harrha, Proceur, Gard, Cesta, Thorisea, Tanalos and Sorro.

The county we will focus on is Chene, which needed its own identity to make it different from the rest of the counties and became the commercial centre of Discoucia. It gained sovereignty from the rest of Discoucia so it could avoid all the extra taxes from the empire and became a sort of Victorian New York with skyscrapers and massive streets. It couldn’t be surrounded by water so I gave it a massive wall that backed on to the mountains, and allowed the use of sky-ships to be used in the plot as more of a necessity.

To make your science-fiction more appealing, you need to come up with a plot device that is different and makes your writing interesting and remarkable. For instance the average Alavonian lives for 1000 years, and to put it in perspective Arthur is 220 which would be 22 in our world. The age that people live to explains how so much technological accomplishments could be made, from subterranean tunnels to underwater research laboratories like Infinica that appears later.

As far as writing in another time, you have to pick which one you want. If you are going to write it in the future then you need to think about how people would live. It is all fine to create fantastical spaceships and futuristic cities, but you have to consider if that is how people would live. However if it is simply a pure fantasy you wish to create then let your imagination run wild. The constraint of writing in the past is that it is set in stone; then again alternate fiction allows history to be distorted for the sake of plot.

In a film like Django Unchained, historically it was highly unlikely for there to be a freed slave becoming a bounty hunter, but the idea was plausible enough for it to fit into the contemporary history of the time. The plot still works with historical accuracies like the feel of the time and the setting, but takes liberties with other things such as the two main characters actions.

Going back to Alavonia, once you have the setting you need to have characters that are likeable or dislikeable to the audience. In the instance of Chene the rulers are Princess Amberlia, who will take over the throne when she reaches 180 and seems to be as evil as any Dickensian villain. She is assisted by her weak sister Princess Sophina in getting rid of her other sister Princess Mona, all while a festival is taking place where the main characters are unaware of what is going on above.

Amberlia represents a spoilt child about to be put in charge, but sees her sisters as enemies that in her paranoid mind she must get rid of. I hoped to achieve what so many authors have done successfully, which was making a horrible villain that has a reason for doing what they do but it still doesn’t condone what they do, but at the same time is interesting because you have to wonder when she is going to suddenly think that what she is doing is wrong and change her mind.

In a sense building a world is just as much about the people as the landscapes, however when it comes to the landscapes it does help to have high mountains or giant caves since they have become so synonymous with the science fiction and fantasy genre.’

A big thank you to Nicholas for that, I know I got a load from it and hopefully you did too! My stop on the blog tour is on July 19th so please share the hell out of it for me and let me know what you think.

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts 🙂

*Novella Review* Rend the Dark (Rend the Dark #1) by Gelineau and King

*Novella Review* Rend the Dark by Gelineau and King

‘The great Ruins are gone. The titans. The behemoths. All banished to the Dark and nearly forgotten. But the cunning ones, the patient ones remain. They hide not in the cracks of the earth or in the shadows of the world. But inside us. Wearing our skin. Waiting. Watching.

Once haunted by visions of the world beyond, Ferran now wields that power to hunt the very monsters that he once feared. He is not alone. Others bear the same terrible burden. But Hunter or hunted, it makes no difference. Eventually, everything returns to the Dark.’

‘Dark’ is the operative word here because with comes in tons!

I’ve previously reviewed some of Gelineau and King’s works and they are fantasy-lite. Not in a bad way (they were very good stories) but a way that a novella should be, short, interesting, and leave you wanting more.

Rend the Dark had all of these, but also something more; horror. 

 That’s right, there is some scary scenes in this story and the creatures are actually damn frightening! There is no levity to be had throughout and it left me with a sinking feeling. And you know what? I actually really enjoyed it!

Character-wise, it’s quite good, although the creatures take more of a front seat, leaving the human characters less evolved. Having said that, Ferran is bad ass! He’s one of those characters that is skilled, strong, but not invulnerable. And he has a face tattoo, I mean, what’s not to like?!

Gelineau and King do it again. Great stuff!

3.5/5

*BOOK REVIEW* Battlemage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #1) by Stephen Aryan

*BOOK REVIEW* Battlemage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #1) by Stephen Aryan

‘I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,’ Balfruss growled. ‘It’s dangerous to meddle with things you don’t understand.’
‘BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.
VARGUS is a common soldier – while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.
TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.
Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent’

Battlemage tells the story of the war between the mad king Taikon of Zeccoria (with aid from the dark wizard, The Warlock) and the people of Seveldrom, led by Princess Talandra; through the eyes of the aforementioned trio of key players. The novel is set around the fight itself and the various manoeuvrings of the armies both on the front lines and behind the scenes.

First of all, I will point out that this is a book that I bought before I’d finished reading the blurb; it just had everything that I would want form a fantasy novel; magic, battles, gods, blood, and guts. My hopes were high.

The parts of the book I enjoyed most were those with the characters that operate behind the scenes and that is rare for me; usually I’m a sucker for a balls-out all-action warrior! but in this case, it was the various spies being deployed that really hooked me. The way they went about their business and influenced with subtle societal shifts was a great touch to the story and helped to paint the bigger picture.

There are also other great parts of this story; the action scenes were good, with some ‘close ups’ of the battles in little snippets and some interesting characters. The biggest problem I had with this novel was the lack of depth to the characters. Now, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing from this novel and i had to consult various people in Facebook groups and found that I agreed with the criticisms; it’s just a bit… shallow.

The characters aren’t fleshed out enough for me and because of that I found it really hard to buy into them. I found myself not caring whether they died, and that’s bad! there are a congregation of Battlemages from various parts of the world and they had the potential to be awesome, hell, they were ALMOST awesome but they just didn’t quite get there. The regular battles between the magical Battlemages and the enemy were not detailed enough, I wanted loads more action but I just didn’t get it.

Also – and this is a weird aside – I think that the personalities of Balfruss and Vargus aren’t suited to their names; I would have switched them around (how arrogant and crass of me). That is the most subjective thing I’ve ever written but screw it, in my head, they’re in reverse!

This being said, I think the potential of this world is huge, and for that reason, I have bought the next two books in the trilogy.

The writer’s style is easy and fluid and he has created a world full of dying magic that has got me interested…just. If the books in this trilogy improve with every instalment, then Chaosmage will blow my head off!

Where to find Stephen Aryan;

Website: https://stephen-aryan.com/

Where to find Battlemage;

 

I really hope this was a balanced review as I have thought about this for a few weeks since I finished it.

Anyway, thanks for reading 🙂

*BOOK REVIEW* Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron

*BOOK REVIEW* Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron

‘A killer adventure fantasy follow-up to HOPE AND RED, set in a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, where two young people from different cultures find common purpose.
Red is being trained as a cold-blooded assassin by the biomancers. As he becomes increasingly embroiled in palace politics, he learns that even life among the nobility can be deadly.
While terrorizing imperial ships as the pirate Dire Bane, Hope stumbles onto a biomancer plot of such horrifying scope that it makes even the massacre of her childhood village seem small in comparison.
With the biomancers tightening their grip of fear over the empire, Hope and Red struggle to fill their new roles and responsibilities, but the cost will be greater than any of them realize’

Bane and Shadow picks up almost immediately where Hope and Red left off (you can read my review of Hope and Red here); Red is with the biomancers after giving himself up to free Hope, who is now sailing the high seas under the name of Dire Bane, an infamous pirate.

First off, I’ll be honest, I LOVED Hope and Red,  it had a freshness about it and the world built by the author was outstanding; so I opened up Bane and Shadow with a lot of expectation. Luckily, there was not let down in sight!

In Bane and Shadow we have the same trope of characters – some are in rather unexpected places – with a few small additions, all of whom offer something to the story (thank God!)

Rixidenteron (or Red as he is or commonly known) is living it up with the aristocracy, ribbing shoulders with the future King, and being trained/experimented on by biomancers in the meantime. There is a nice little side story within Rixidenteron’s arc, as he  is troubled by a ‘shadow demon’ that is finding small pockets of resistance against the biomancers and is slaughtering them. Rixidenteron makes it his mission to  find this shadow demo and out and end to it. The author also sets up the court politics within this story and introduces other lands and other cultures, something that could make this a world that could be expanded and expanded (which i hope it is!).

Hope – sailing under the fearsome name of Dire Bane – with her crew (new additions of Red’s inventive cousin, and a complicated biomancer, Brigga Lin), are sailing the high seas and capturing vessels with links to the biomancers. Hope was the one part of this story that didn’t do everything for me; she was tough as hell in the first novel but we never quite see her specialist skills put to use here. I mean fine, she has lost a hand, but come on, she still could have swung something about, ell, it would ave been cool to see her lose and then do something to re-hone her skills.

Bane and Shadow  is a good follow-up novel to Hope and Red and introduces the pecking order of the biomancers and their e’er so devious plots. What the author does well is to give us an insight into the biomancer culture and their lifelong goal of total domination, as well as their ever increasing influence over court politics. There are also some fantastic little twists throughout the story and some characters that really steal the show; the author pulls back the curtain on some of the loftier parts of society and damn! it’s awesome!

This is the most fun book I have read in a long time! Piracy, world-building, and damn fine characters; this is a swashbuckling fantasy-fest that will not disappoint!

Where to find Jon Skovron;

Website: jonskovron.com

  

 

Where to find Bane and Shadow

 

 

 

*BOOK REVIEW* Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson

*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;

Website

Goodreads

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Where to find Visions of Zarua

  

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