Hello, good readers!
As part of the challenges presented in Untitled & Unfocused, I’ve committed to reading at least one book a week, and I’m going to start by going through my Armadillocon purchases. This week’s offering is The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca.
Let me start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’m anxiously awaiting the return of the Thorn in The Alchemy of Chaos in 2016. Maresca paints a vivid world full of interesting characters. Veranix Calbert has just the right mix of bravado, showmanship, and personal failings to make a well rounded protagonist, but Kaiana really stole the show for me. There’s only so much I can give away without spoiling, but I can say that I have a weakness for non powered characters going toe to toe with their powered (in this case, by magic) friends and foes. Even most of the villains are well rounded. Though the ‘big bad’ of this book felt a little overly evil for the sake of being evil, that served to make the omni-present antagonist all the more chillingly human.
Maresca touches on a wide variety of themes, from coming of age, to institutional racism, the politics of street gangs, family loyalty, and being in the position to ‘pass’ as someone or something more respectable. He also does some wonderful work with point of view, including occasionally dipping into the point of view of the previously mentioned antagonist.
The only thing this book suffers from is comparison. It is a high fantasy novel telling the story of a minority circus performer seeking to avenge his family while learning magic from the University, which immediately brings to mind Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, which very few books can compare to favorable. I’ll admit that I spent a a few pages worrying about how I was going to be able to review this book, but at some point fairly early on, I forgot to compare and just started enjoying it. Sure, the one liner can be written to sound the same, but they’re very different books.
The magic is cool. The characters are cool. The fight scenes? Cool? Actually, I’d say the fight scenes are awesome. If this sounds up your alley, do yourself a favor and check it out.
TLDR: 4/5 stars