#SPFBO Review : Reign and Ruin (Mages of the Wheel #1) by JD Evans

Posted On 30 April 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our final review for Reign and Ruin (Mages of the Wheel #1) by JD Evans.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.


Reign and Ruin was perhaps one of my biggest surprises for the competition.  Primarily because this is fantasy with a healthy slice of romance and I’m not shy about repeatedly saying that romance doesn’t usually work for me.  It’s a nice feeling to be proved wrong on this occasion.

This is a story set in a Sultanate with a middle eastern type setting.  We meet Naime, a young woman, educated, knowledgeable, ambitious and unafraid to tackle the inequalities of her situation.  Her father, the Sultan, is slowly declining, his memory a thin veil. she needs to maintain a semblance of control whilst at the same time trying to be named the heir.  At the same time Naime wants to protect her people from invasion and has a vision for Tamar that involves collaboration with a neighbouring country, a vision that is not shared with the other ruling entities.  Basically, Naime is treading a fine line.  Keep the politicians happy, prevent any sort of betrothal that will leave her powerless, protect the country and seek aid from a neighbouring state that really doesn’t want to collaborate.

At the same time we have  Makram, a Prince, second in line to the throne and a powerful mage of Sarkam.  He adores his brother which clouds his better judgement in relation to the fact that he is no longer loved but reviled for his magic ability.  Similar to Naime, Makram has a vision for his country and people and is only too happy to seek an alliance with Tamar unbeknown to his brother.

Naime and Makram are both powerful in terms of their magical ability.  Both are accustomed to wielding authority and control, both fear for their countries and both have a vision for something better.

I liked the politics created for this particular world and the way in which magic is used.  Certain magical abilities have become taboo and there is a clear divide between the prosperous Tamar and the inferior Sarkam.  Tamar has a certain old fashioned style politics with a very male dominated control.  Tamar is perhaps similarly controlled but Markam is slightly different in both his respect for women and his own lack of ambition, well, probably that’s not phrased well, it’s not that he lacks ambition so much as he wants to follow the right course and isn’t afraid to let others lead him there.

In terms of characters.  I liked Naime.  She is so good at politics.  I loved the way she is written and more than that the way she stands up to those who try and dismiss her  Seriously, she really is a great female character.  At the end of the day, she has been raised to this role and she fulfills it beautifully .  She knows what she wants,she’s scared that she won’t be able to achieve it and she isn’t afraid to seek help.

Markam is afraid of what he is and what he is capable of (with good reason), he has misplaced trust in his brother even though any semblance of affection seems to have long since passed and he is desperate for someone to actually see him as a person rather than fear him for the magic he wields.

The two of them are basically an accident waiting to happen and I can’t deny that I really enjoyed their interactions.  They make a refreshingly well balanced couple.  I don’t mean to make them sound dull by saying that, just that their relationship is really well written.

In a nutshell I enjoyed this because, the pace was snappy, the world building was interesting, the characters were engaging, the romance was slow burn and there was chemistry aplenty.

Criticisms.  I think to an extent this is a tried and tested format and the characters are perhaps a tad cliche, but at the end of the day that’s probably what makes it such a winning story.  I wouldn’t say this is particularly deep or ground breaking but I think regardless of that the story is very entertaining and I think the author has managed to perfectly balance the plot and the romance.  I would certainly like to read more as for once I didn’t find myself eye rolling every time the  main characters got together.

If you’re looking for a fantasy story with what I consider to be a quite sizzling, slow burn romance with engaging characters and witty dialogue you could go a long way before finding such a good read.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 8.5 stars out of 10 or 4 of 5 for Goodreads.

The Critiquing Chemist rated this 8.5 stars

Our combined rating 8.5


2 Responses to “#SPFBO Review : Reign and Ruin (Mages of the Wheel #1) by JD Evans”

  1. Tammy

    Looks like you both really liked this one. I do love a good readable story, even if it isn’t groundbreaking 😁

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Romance does not work for me either, but your description of these characters and their interactions (not to mention the background in which the story is set), makes me hope that I might change my mind, just for once… 😉

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