Tag Archives: epic fantasy

Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn by Paul Francois Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man who witnesses great tragedy must go on an epic quest to save his sister and fulfill his destiny in author Paul Francois’s “Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn”. 

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The Synopsis

During a time of strife, Megildur must traverse Aerynth to rescue his sister and fulfill a destiny ordained by the All-Father. Finding Shadowbane, the mighty but cursed sword, will be challenging enough for this young Aelfborn. In a world torn apart by treachery and conflict, it is every being, or creature, for themselves.

This novel combines qualities from Lord of the Rings© and Greek mythology, with a few twists on some new races…such as Irekei, Aracoix, and of course, Aelfborn. This is the first novel to reveal the lore behind the epic player versus player game, Shadowbane.

Aerynth exists within a shroud of betrayal and deceit for over 100 years. In this realm of chaos, Megildur finds help from an unlikely pair…a sneaky Shade and a nomadic Nephilim. Can this unique trio bring peace and order to Aerynth, or fall prey to the Terror of Terrors? 

The Review

This was such an epic and captivating fantasy read. This definitely would feel right at home for fans of epic, deep-cut level fantasy storytelling, delving into a world of mythological creatures from all varieties of mythological backgrounds. I absolutely loved this mashup of different cultures and myths to delve into, as well as the author’s use of imagery and atmospheric buildup in the narrative. 

What struck me was the utilization of the hero’s journey for this novel, as protagonist Megildur grows from a young boy desperate to save the last person connected to his family to a leader and hero that is destined to save the world. The author’s use of writing style felt very much like it was written for fans of video games, which was such a breath of fresh air for the genre. From the journey itself feeling like an open-world game to the various creatures the protagonist had to face (or bosses), the stylistic choices of this narrative made this a true standout novel.

The Verdict

A remarkable, entertaining, and epic fantasy novel, author Paul Francois’s “Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn” is a must-read novel. Fantastic world-building and mythology kept me hooked the entire time, and the cast of characters kept readers invested in the hero’s journey the protagonist found himself on, making this a remarkable story worth diving into. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

By day, Paul Francois is a mild-mannered IT professional. He has been in the technology field for over 20 years. One day, in 2011, he started pondering story ideas until they leaped out of his brain and onto paper…onto the computer to be precise.

Join him as he discovers which genre suits his writing style best. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller, or perhaps…all of the aforementioned. The road is dreary and his journey long, sit back and enjoy a tale as we travel it together.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0722CDJW2/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F30621959-shadowbane&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Aspatria by John C. Adams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An invading army and the loss of all her male relatives forces young Dextra to become the Queen of Aspatria, and as she struggles to find her footing as the realm’s ruler, she must contend with an invading army and multiple suitors seeking her hand in marriage to secure the kingdom, all while struggling with her own romantic feelings in author John C. Adams novel, “Aspatria”. 

The Synopsis

Aspatria

After all her male relatives are killed in battle when the Eiran army invades Aspatria, AETHELINGA DEXTRA (18) is forced to take the throne of her country. The ruling council, the witan, choose her in preference to her surviving bastard half-brother CENWULF DARKWATER (18).

In the early days, with her reign still uncertain, Dextra accepts the need to marry a powerful prince to lead Aspatria’s fyrd into battle and to secure foreign alliances to support Aspatria. GORTAH VAN MURKAR (48) brings his youngest son, PRINCE EUGENE (18) to her capital to arrange a match. They are not the only members of royal houses heading to Brewchester hoping to win the hand of the Dextra of Aspatria.

Dextra refuses marriages offer from KHAN NICHOLAI (20), ruler of the Albins, and CROWN PRINCE JOHANN VON RELIATRA (15). She is not compatible with Gortah’s son Eugene and tells the Murkan king so at once. However, Dextra is very taken with Gortah’s adopted nephew LORD LUDWIG BERG (19).

The situation is soon complicated when Dextra insists upon staying true to her country’s heritage by taking two husbands. As he guides her through the early days of her reign, her admiration and regard for Gortah grow but he is incapable of overcoming his objections to her marrying twice.

Under Gortah’s tutelage, and despite her grief at the sudden loss of her father, uncle, brothers and cousins in war, Dextra’s confidence as a ruler grows. The young queen learns to bring the witan round to her point of view and rely on their advice as she establishes herself as a fair and strong ruler of Aspatria. The council stands behind her and she soon blossoms into the role of queen.

Dextra marries Ludwig on the night before battle. Gortah leads the fyrd into war with the Albins to expel them from Aspatria. The fyrd beat their foe back but Gortah finds himself laid low by witchcraft. The fyrd return to the capital and speculation intensifies that Gortah will marry Dextra and become her second husband. As Gortah recovers from his illness, Dextra’s position is made harder by his behaviour towards her. The spells cast over him make him overtly sexual and she is accused of already having been intimate with her august suitor and being pregnant with his illegitimate child. Dextra’s stepmother Queen Maureen is the prime suspect as the search for Gortah’s attacker intensifies.

Eugene heads to South Eira to lead the Murkan army in defending the border garrison of Dunath. Meanwhile, the Murkan fort at Belshan in South Eira is attacked by an army of ghost ships sent by the King of Eira’s mother.

Reliatra move their army through the mountain pass at Nordweig and enter South-East Aspatria to attack the burh at Westkennet. As the queen’s husband, it is Ludwig’s job to lead the fyrd in battle but he is captured. Back in Brewchester, Gortah overcomes his reservations about being the second of two husbands and proposes to Dextra.

Gortah sneaks into the Reliatran camp to rescue Ludwig and takes PRINCESS NOTBURG VON RELIATRA (18) prisoner. The feisty warrior is held as security until her father OTTMAR VON RELIATRA (40) can raise two million marks as compensation for his wrongful invasion of Aspatria.

Even though they are now engaged, Gortah is still struggling to overcome his reservations about being Dextra’s second husband. She remains concerned about how Gortah will respond if Ludwig fathers a son with her before he does. Will the powerful monarchs be able to settle their differences and find happiness together? Or will war between Murkar and Aspatria become inevitable? 

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The Review

What an intricately plotted and massively built-out fantasy world! This was an exceptional fantasy read, blending the political intrigue and rivalries of Game of Thrones with the brutality and action of Vikings. The author did a great job of finding a balance between integrating well-known medieval-style fantasy world-building and crafting original settings and characters that make the world of Aspatria feel alive. 

The vast cast of characters was a sight to behold. The evolution of main characters like Gortah and Dextra was so well-rounded and engaging as a reader to delve into, while the blend of magic and realism in this fantasy realm heightened the drama between the characters, as well as the heart-pounding action and suspense as each character’s massive arc played out. 

The Verdict

A memorable, mind-bending, and emotionally-driven fantasy romance novel, author John C. Adams’s novel “Aspatria” is a must-read epic fantasy. The readers will be instantly drawn in by the gritty and brutal war that opens up the novel, and be drawn in as the romance and emotions between Dextra and the men hoping to win her heart play out on the pages, creating engaging and entertaining drama that is impossible to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m a non-binary proofreader, editor, reviewer and author.

You can find out more about my proofreading and editing services here:

https://www.johncadamsreviews.com/about

I review for the British Fantasy Society as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

You can subscribe to my blog here: https://www.johncadamsreviews.com/

My horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, my fantasy romance novel ‘Aspatria’ and my fantasy and horror anthology ‘The Red Dawn and Other Stories’ are all free on Smashwords retailers. ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, the sequel to ‘Aspatria’, and ‘Blackacre Rising’, the sequel to ‘Souls for the Master’ are also available from Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an reviewer and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/687737

Thread of Souls: Book II – Ash & Thunder by Scott and Ashley Roepel Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A deadly new threat to Soleia rises in the cover of a massive storm, and the Phantom Five find themselves questioning one another’s loyalty as they seek refuge and help within the empire’s capital in authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Thread of Souls: Book II – Ash & Thunder”. 

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The Synopsis

The adventuring group known as the Phantom Five journey to the empire’s capital to warn of the threat against it. But instead of a welcome reception, they find a city wrought with deception. The royal children are missing, murders happen overnight, and the group’s own loyalties are questioned. Worse, their one contact in the capital, Unol’s Shadow Guild, has marked her as a traitor. All the while, rumors spread of a great storm over Soleia hiding a monster within. And as their attention is divided in a world crumbling into chaos around them, Jade knows the clock is ticking on her visions. If she doesn’t make it to Oceala soon, everyone in her city will die.

The Review

A fantastic new chapter in this growing fantasy saga, the authors have brilliantly given readers a lengthy epic fantasy that balances intricate character development with big-time mythology. The protagonists of this series, the Phantom Five, once more take center stage, and their evolution throughout this narrative is engaging to say the least. It was fascinating to witness the twists and turns the authors took their heroes, from the noble Zok to Unole and Jade, and even took the time to give each protagonist their own chapters and time to explore their motivations clearly.

The mythos is what always drives me and my passion for epic fantasy series like this. I loved the inclusion of so many known supernatural creatures, but the created mythology that the authors put together of this new land and the world overall was fantastic to see come to life on the page. Imagery played a major role in this story, the writing doing an excellent job of crafting the narrative in such a way that the characters and world came to life in my mind. 

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The Verdict

A thrilling, haunting, and entertaining new chapter in this growing fantasy world, authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Thread of Souls: Book II – Ash & Thunder” is a must-read fantasy book. The perfect second chapter of this growing universe, the twists and turns the author takes readers on, including the identity of the book’s latest threats, makes this story so engaging for fans of this genre, and a cliff-hanger ending will leave fans breathlessly awaiting the next chapter of the series. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Scott and Ashley Roepel are a husband and wife team of writers, creators, and travelers. They are co-founders of Tal & Ru Travels LLC which is focused on entertaining and engaging content. Deep lovers of fantasy, the two of them are avid D&D players and content creators.

https://talandrudungeonloot.com/

https://www.instagram.com/talandrutravels/

Thread of Souls: Book One: Phantom Five by Scott & Ashley Roepel Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A group of adventurers must overcome their differences to face a world of deadly magic, monsters and the undead as they seek answers to the shocking murder of a high priest in authors Scott & Ashley Roepel’s “Thread of Souls: Book One: Phantom Five”. 

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The Synopsis

The sudden death of a high priest in a sleepy coastal village has rocked aspiring Paladin Zok’s world. Finding evidence of murder, he can trust no one in the temple as a dark plot unravels itself. Zok teams up with a group of adventurers to seek answers deep within the desert.

He’s joined by a nomadic Druid who is haunted by visions of a calamity, and an orphan thief who is chasing her kidnapped sister across the planes. And by a boisterous pirate, an enigmatic Wizard, and a Ranger fugitive of war. If they cannot put aside their differences, they will not survive the world of occult magic, interplanar monsters, and hungry undead that await them.

And halfway across the land, Taliesin and Ruuda are two fugitives from their oppressive homes. They venture out in a world where they must hide their identity or risk execution.

The Review

This was such a fun and engaging fantasy read. Detailed with both character backstory and mythology, the authors have done a masterful job crafting a story with both magical and larger-than-life action that blends with personal narratives that really connect the cast of characters with the reader. 

The balance of dark fantasy and character growth really elevates the narrative here. The danger and stakes of this fantasy world are made apparent early on in the story, as one of the main characters watches her sister taken right before her eyes by a large flying creature out of a nightmare. Yet it is the bond between the characters that really steals this story, as the blend of humor, charm, and heroism mixes with the personal problems each of these characters faces with their pasts and futures. It speaks of the classic swords and daggers, hero’s journey elements of adult fantasy novels that fans have come to know and love over the years.

The Verdict

An exhilarating, thrilling, and breathtaking fantasy-driven story, authors Scott and Ashley Roepel’s “Thread of Souls” is a must-read novel for fantasy fans of 2021! The first in an exciting 8-part fantasy series, the authors have created a brilliant and engaging story that hosts the magic and wonder that so many fans of the fantasy genre have always loved, and fans will not want to miss out on this series for themselves. Be sure to grab your copy today!

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About the Authors

Scott and Ashley Roepel are a husband and wife team of writers, creators, and travelers. They are co-founders of Tal & Ru Travels LLC which is focused on entertaining and engaging content. Deep lovers of fantasy, the two of them are avid D&D players and content creators.

https://talandrudungeonloot.com/

https://www.instagram.com/talandrutravels/