Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Bookwyrm's Review of The Sorceror's Ascension by Brock Deskins

Author: Brock Deskins

Pages/Length:  337 Pages/ 9 hrs, 55 mins (Audio)

Release Date:  January 19, 2014/ December 1, 2017

Publisher: Dingo Dog Publishing

Narrator: William Turbett

I went into this one without any preconceptions, other than knowing I had enjoyed the author's urban fantasy novel Shroud of Darkness. I found that though this is a completely different book, it was just as enjoyable. After reading this, I felt that this was what The Name of the Wind should have been if the main character wasn't a complete Mary Sue.

When Azerick, son of a wealthy sea trader, has his father executed after he was framed for treason, He and his mother lose everything to the local Duke. They end up living in an inn his mother works at as a server. When she is violently murdered and he is thrown out, Azerick returns after dark, breaks in gets his stuff back, and after struggling with and incapacitating the innkeeper who stole their belongings, burns the inn to the ground. 

This sets Azerick on a path he could never have foreseen. Squatting in an abandoned building, he is found by a group of squatters and joins their ranks. When a dispute with the thieves guild destroys his new family, Azerick declares war on the thieves, getting his revenge in the cruelest way possible. After a series of run ins with the Mages guild, it is discovered Azerick has magical ability and he is allowed to start training at the guild academy, where the children of rich and noble scions train. Obviously, as a poor orphan, he butts heads with the other students, especially the biggest bully boy, Travis. As you can expect, a boy used to living by his wits and strength on the street is not going to take bullying lying down. This theme continues throughout the book, as Azerick, who is very smart and understands magic theory very well, struggles to cast spells beyond a certain simple level, although he does excel in academic subjects and alchemy.

This changes when it is discovered that Azerick is a sorcerer, not a wizard, meaning his spell casting is self determined, not cast by rote spells. With this revelation, and a new master to tutor him, his spell casting is greatly improved. As time passes, and his rivalry with Travis reaches its final climax in a duel, Azerick discovers a secret that may effect the safety of the world, and he must determine what he needs to do and where his loyalties lie. This ties into a side plot dealing with the kingdoms founding as it's dragon overlords were overthrown with the help of five suits of magic armor that are now in play in a power play for the throne.

The characters are a real strength of this book, especially Azerick. His struggles after his families fall and subsequent successes and failures really tempered his personality. He is a hard young man, willing to take the harshest measures for revenge and to protect those he loves. What he did to the man who killed his mother and to the thieves guild show that no measure is too radical to achieve his goals, for good or ill. The secondary characters, from his best friend  to his mentor are well thought out and have well rounded personalities. The villains, whether Travis or the Duke and his henchmen, are loathsome but believable, being drawn to power and the ability to abuse it.  

The setting is well thought out and well described, with lots of detail without going overboard. The plot and prose flow well, with lots of action, but some introspection as well, as the events unfold to show the grander conspiracy and how it connects to Azerick.The final portion of the book is like a roller coaster ride leading to Azerick and Travis's inevitable confrontation, and has a satisfying payoff. All told, a dark but enjoyable beginning to a series.

I was unfamiliar with William Turbett's narration before this book, but I am happy to have discovered him. He brings each character a unique life of their own, with a variety of tones and accents, and his pacing is very solid. He makes you want to keep listening as he brings the story to life.

I have heard that this book was compared to The Name of the Wind in a negative way. I find that odd, since while it deals with similar characters, it goes in very different directions, with the characters having different methods and motivations. I would recommend this story to anyone who would like a different take, a darker one, on a coming of age tale, with well rounded characters and real struggle and pathos.


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