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MANTLE OF THE WORLD RULER

THE LOST WELLS TRILOGY: BOOK TWO

Romance and resplendent characters fuel this novel’s enthralling magical world.

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A witch and her lover aim to thwart a villainous immortal hellbent on domination in Gateley’s contemporary fantasy sequel.

Fate has united Canadian Julia Harrison and Irishman Dom O’Brien throughout their various lifetimes. Together once again in 2018, they survive their destined run-in with depraved sorcerer Cassius, largely thanks to Julia’s fairly new Bearing magic, akin to witchcraft. Julia and Dom leave Canada’s west coast for LA, where they hope to lie low for a spell. But it’s not easy to elude Cassius’ Wraiths, which have been ominously gathering all around them. Fortunately, the couple isn’t short on allies—from magic-wielding Druids to weapons-oriented Knaves. Julia is still trying to “unlock” her own power but hasn’t yet mastered it. Though Bearers like her are rare, she senses a dark wielder of Bearing magic who’s possibly in league with Cassius. Meanwhile, Julia and the others are oblivious to what Cassius is up to—scouring the globe for an ancient tome he believes will put an end to all “Wielders.” With any luck, Julia’s visions will warn her about Cassius’ fiendish plans. This second installment of a trilogy (following Tides of the Sovereign, 2022) sharpens its focus even more on Julia and Dom’s riveting series-driving union. It’s steeped in searing romance and tragedy; for centuries Cassius has killed them off each time they connect, and Dom, unlike Julia, remembers their past lives and all the times he’s watched her die. Moreover, the couple treks the world together, as when one of Julia’s “Divinations” sends them to Mexico. Through uber-evil Cassius’ point of view, the reader is privy to the novel’s vividly rendered global settings, whether he’s wandering through market stalls in Marrakech or driving past a medieval fortress in Carcassonne, France, for example. The author elevates this fantasy with some intense magic-driven action in between the sympathetic couple’s many intimate and convincingly passionate scenes.

Romance and resplendent characters fuel this novel’s enthralling magical world.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9781039155268

Page Count: 531

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2023

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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IRON FLAME

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

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