Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
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Although this book started out slowly, it soon swept me into the world of Paltria, immersing me in a mysterious magical world full of threats and dangers. It almost felt like a mystery at some points – dropping clues and trying to solve what was going on. I loved the mashup between genres, and think that Suzanne Rogerson handled it really well – weaving clues with magic in a clever way, and being able to keep the book feeling like both an epic fantasy and a mystery novel and the same time. It kept me guessing and on my toes, and, once it got going, was an exciting read. I also liked how action was interwoven with slower-moving scenes as the story switched from viewpoint to viewpoint – daring rebels and fighting in one, and a slower-paced hunt for a target in the other.
“Varnia wanted to lost herself in the magic of their song, but the excited chatter in the room picked up a notch and drowned out her peace.”
The book is split into two parts – one a third person POV, the other a first person POV occurring a few hundred years before the main events of the book. At first, I struggled to see what the two stories had to do with each other, but then they crashed into one another with a sudden sweep of coming together, pulling all of the threads they had been individually weaving together into one big story. It was a little bit like when you find the perfect piece for a puzzle, and it sets off a chain of other pieces slotting in, with everything suddenly finding the place it belongs in. It was cleverly crafted – the way it managed to feel so separate at first, and then all link neatly together, before continuing to link as it moved along.
“The scene looked to peaceful, contrasting with the turmoil her attuned senses felt building in the air. Dread fluttered in her chest.”
In its most basic form, this is a good vs. evil story. There are wizards and magicians scattered around – it wasn’t completely clear exactly how magic was passed on/appeared, but it seemed that, for at least one person, it was passed on from her mother – a powerful witch. Some wizards answered to the king, serving as royal wizards and working in specific areas, and others served as apprentices or got along quietly on their own.
It was also possible for some wizards to lock away the magic others possessed, stopping them from using or even knowing of their power. As for the wielders of good magic – they seemed to be able to do a lot of things, and most of the power involved came from within the caster of the magic, but the bad focused around sacrifice. Using dark magic, the evil wizards were capable of summoning and controlling ‘Nagra’ – big, scary beasts that were hard to kill, and very good at hunting people down. Overall, the magic was woven nicely into the story – no info-dumps of world-building here!
“The dawn light was just colouring the sky when the gate-guards pushed the heavy oak doors open, offering us a tantalising view inside the citadel.”
Finally, can we take a moment to talk about the cover? I really like it! It’s beautiful, but also very mysterious, with the hooded figure and the obscuring fog all around. They say not to judge a book by the cover, but I’ll admit that I (at least partially) do, and I love it when a cover is; A) beautiful, and; B) reflects the book to some extent. For me, the cover of this book ticks both those boxes, and I really, really like it!
“It was fully dark by the time we were done, and the moon was just a sliver in the clear night sky.”
- interesting magic system, featuring a darker ‘sect’ of magic, and a hierarchy of wizards
- strong friendships
- a sweet adoptive relationship
- determined rebels
- slightly slow start (that then speeds into action)
- um… I can’t think of anything else? That’s good, I guess!
Remember, it’s on sale right now, so get your hands on a copy and immerse yourself in this fantastic magical mystery!
About the Author…
Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.
She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.
She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.
Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.