War of the Staffs by Steve Stephenson

War of the Staffs

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A human prince must defeat a powerful vampire warlock in this debut YA fantasy novel with sci-fi and horror elements.

Lord Taza, a vampire warlock and former emperor on planet Narlos, plans to transform all the inhabitants of planet Muiria into his vampire servants. Gifted the magical Staff of Adois by an evil goddess, Taza seems invincible—he has already transmuted many of the underground elven race of illanni—except for the “dire prophecy” of his downfall by human Prince Tarquin of Partha. After Taza’s assassin kills Tarquin’s cousin by mistake, wizard Celedant appears before the prince with an invitation to “take on a challenge worthy of your ancient Parthian blood.” Hungry for adventure, Tarquin leaves that very night to join the dwarven army at Celedant’s behest. After years of battling orcs alongside new dwarven friends, Tarquin rises through the ranks as a fierce, loyal soldier. Meanwhile, Celedant embarks on his own dangerous quest to obtain the Staff of Adaman, the only weapon that can defeat Taza’s Staff of Adois and maintain the equilibrium between good and evil. At the same time, a noble elven daughter, Morganna, foments rebellion among Taza’s illanni in the hope of joining the aboveground “children of light” Wood Elves. As his enemies amass, Taza uses the Staff of Adois to summon monsters from other dimensions. Luckily, Muiria has its own collection of magical beasts, including telepathic dragons and gods willing to interfere at opportune moments, resulting in creative battles. This ambitious novel is heavily inspired by The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones series. At its heart, the plot that Stephenson and Tedrick concoct is a simple hero’s journey, but a plethora of characters and subplots, as well as the detailed histories of multiple races—and planets—stretching back “thousands of years before the continents broke apart,” drowns the narrative. When the forces of good finally converge, battle sequences are carefully described with a few surprising twists. Yet the final chapter ends abruptly with many loose ends, suggesting further additions to this already sprawling story.

In this intricate tale featuring an intense warrior, worldbuilding takes precedence over character development and a coherent narrative.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61296-717-2
Page count: 366pp
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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