#SPFBO Review : Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

KnightmareKnightmare Arcanist is set in a world full of magic and mythical creatures.  It’s a very enjoyable story that gets off to a really good start and in fact it pulled me in  immediately.  We meet Volke, apprentice gravedigger who longs to be an Arcanist.  To become an arcanist one must bond with a magical creature and as the book kicks off we find Volke gate-crashing a phoenix bonding trial hoping to bond with a phoenix himself.  Failing the trial Volke is still determined to follow his ambitions and he and his sister travel to a swamp where a boat carrying magical beasts is believed to have crashed.  The two both eventually succeed in finding and bonding with a magical creature.

From here we travel to a magical school (set on the back of a gigantic turtle) and the real adventures begin.

There are so many aspects that I really enjoyed about this book and I was  gripped almost immediately.  It really does get off to a very quick start.  We’re thrown into the world and there’s no tippy-toeing around.  I also love the whole idea of these young characters bonding with a magical creature that will enable them to wield magic – and of course there’s the magic school element.  Plus, the main mystery.  Let’s not forget the mystery.

The magical creatures are very interesting and Volke’s own bonded creature particularly so.  A Knightmare is a creature of shadow, in fact it can use the shadows in different ways.  It can take the form of a knight and can actually ‘join’ with it’s bonded human to fight.  Unfortunately Volke finds the bonding and use of magic very difficult, in fact painful, much more so than his fellow students.

The world building was also intriguing.  A terrible plague is spreading across the land, magical creatures touched with the plague become dark versions of themselves, insane and unstable and this disease can also affect humans, particularly if they’re bitten by an infected creature.  Arcanists are desperate to find a cure but travelling between islands is rendered dangerous by the number of pirates sailing the seas.

The characters.  There is a good cast, primarily of young adult characters faced with the sorts of dilemmas you would expect.  There is bullying and petty rivalry but also a really good attempt to build up lasting friendships.  Volke and his sister Ilia are joined by Zaxis and Atty, the two young adults who took part in the initial trials and bonded with a phoenix each.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I will point out before saying anything else that this was a very enjoyable book that kept me entertained.  That being said, I probably enjoyed the start of the book more than the conclusion – which is a little unusual in some respects because the conclusion is certainly action packed.  I think I had a slight feeling that the second half needed to pace itself a little more.  I also had a couple of slight irritations here or there which were predominantly as a result of feeling that some things just came too easily.  There’s also this element at the school of teachers not teaching at all – just telling students to do something without any sort of explanation and the mysterious disappearance of adults for large portions of time.  But, saying all this, I recognise that I’m not maybe the target audience here and none of these were real deal breakers.

Overall this is an action packed, dramatic adventure with critters aplenty, intriguing magic, trials, schools, pirates and a central mystery just waiting to be solved and as first books in series go it’s a very solid start indeed.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

11 Responses to “#SPFBO Review : Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall”

  1. sjhigbee

    A great review, Lynn:)). I really love the sound of this one – there is plenty going on and I like the despite there being some rivalry that there is also friendship between the young protagonists. I love that cover!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a very entertaining read. I had a few small issues but I think that’s probably more because I’m not the target audience.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Ah, I can see why the beginning might be stronger, pacing issues aren’t uncommon when it comes to endings. But this sounds great overall 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a really good read and I found myself really looking forward to it.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    It does sound very intriguing despite those little “hiccups” you mentioned, and that flaming phoenix on the cover is nothing short of amazing! 🙂

  4. waytoofantasy

    Glad you mostly enjoyed this one. Look forward to the rest of SPFBO!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was definitely a very positive reading experience.
      Lynn 😀

  5. #SPFBO : Semi-Finalist and Cuts Announcement (2) | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] I enjoyed the Knightmare Arcanist.  It has a lot going for it, plenty of action and a school type setting where students who have bonded with a magical mythical creature come to learn.  Plenty of student bonding and adventure with a central mystery and an ending that promises more. My review is here. […]

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