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SEVERANCE OF THE SORCERER

Robust worldbuilding and a millennia-spanning romance make this fantasy series finale a compelling read.

Awards & Accolades

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This final volume of an epic fantasy trilogy spans thousands of years and features a multitude of characters.

Julia O’Brien and her husband, Domhnall, are holed up in a cabin in Saskatchewan, hiding out while they lick their wounds. Ronan Gallagher, the man Dom thought of as a brother and someone Julia considered family, betrayed them and is now working with their greatest enemy—Marcus Cassius Longinus. Cassius has been alive for over a millennium, and Julia and Dom have spent countless lives trying to defeat him. Julia, the victim of a curse, is reborn every time she dies. Dom chose to be cursed so he could regenerate and find her again. At one point, Julia recalls: “To him, our love had always been a cause worth dying for.” Now, after so many rebirths, she’s noticed that her memories of her past lives have been deteriorating. There’s something about this life cycle that might end the curse. Julia wants to have a normal life with Dom—to start a family—and the only way to do that is to ensure Cassius’ demise. Julia must develop and fully control her magic. With the help of her friends, found family, and a collection of Druids, Wielders, and Knaves, she must annihilate the evil Cassius and his army of Wraiths. In this third volume, Gateley delivers the epic ending that readers are surely clamoring for. The novel relies heavily on the audience being familiar with the previous books, since characters are known by multiple names and titles that are used interchangeably. For example, Cassius is also called “the Sorcerer” and “the Child of Rome,” with Julia and Dom having similar titles. But despite the work’s heavy backstory and use of multiple names, Gateley skillfully weaves an enthralling tale starring remarkable players on a dangerous mission. The author’s fantasy world is rich and varied, with different types of magic users, including Druids, Bearers, and Wielders, to name a few. These elements, combined with Julia and Dom’s engrossing love story, will please fantasy and romance fans alike.

Robust worldbuilding and a millennia-spanning romance make this fantasy series finale a compelling read.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 289

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2024

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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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