Review of: The Seventh Year Trials: A Dragon Rider Competition (The Tainted Scales Series, Book 1)
by Alexis D. Johnson
September 16 - Review by Ron L. Lahr    
  Ever since my daughters grew up I haven't gone looking for Young Adult fiction of any sort. I have read some books that might be considered YA, I think. Honestly, I get a little confused by this. If a book has no graphic language, sex and violence is it YA? Sometimes. 
  The Seventh Year Trials is marketed as Young Adult Fantasy and I wanted to read it because the author and I are in a Facebook group about writing. I wasn't sure what to expect, exactly, but what I found was an interesting story, memorable characters and an awesome take on dragons.
  This is Alexis D. Johnson's first novel and I enjoyed it very much. If you are a fan of dragons, and not very many fantasy fans aren't, then you'll enjoy this original portrayal of them.
  The main character, Mirren, has family and money issues and then, to top it all off, she gets dragged into the world of dragons and their competitions. I liked her and really enjoyed all of the family interactions. I was impressed with a lot of the characters in the book - the bad guys were fun to dislike and root against, and the story pulled me along quickly. I don't like or recommend books just because they have a female (or person of color, or LGBTQ, or non-Caucasian) main character, I'm not that woke, I guess. I only like a book if I like the main character and think they are well written. Although, I do feel good about myself when i like (and recommend) a book with a female (or those other things i mentioned) protagonist. So, I'm not perfect.
  I definitely do recommend the Seventh Year Trials and am eagerly awaiting the sequel. Get to work, Alexis!
 Review of: A Testament of Steel (Instrument of Omens, Book 1)
by Davis Ashura
September 8 - Review by Ron L. Lahr  
  I didn't have high expectations for this book when I started it. The description made me think it was another 'chosen one' story and I'll admit that I've read so many of them lately that I am more than a little tired of them. 
  Happily, right from the start this story was different. The main character's memory loss made all of the exposition very plausible in the story while remaining helpful to me as the reader. I really liked that idea. 
  I also enjoyed the protagonist quite a bit. He's a good guy but not one dimensional. There were a lot of other interesting characters and I usually enjoy racial tension , of which there was quite a bit, and it was very well done.
  The magic systems were interesting, the various settings were enjoyable, and I enjoyed the story. For a first in series novel it checked all of the boxes for me. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel and I will probably check out some of the author's other novels.
 Review of: Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1)
by Robin Hobb
August 17 - Review by Ron L. Lahr 
  Two out of every three books I review are new indie fantasy books that you can get on Kindle Unlimited. I want to help out other indie fantasy authors in some small way and it's fun. However, sometimes I like to reread my old favorites and Assassin's Apprentice is a book I truly love. I've read it many times over the years and it always moves me. I reread it so I could write this review and while it didn't make me cry, like I did the first time I read it, which was pretty embarrassing because I was on a break at work and just sitting there crying, it did affect me deeply.
  It is the first book in a trilogy of trilogies about FitzChivalry Farseer. The themes of family, loyalty, duty, are timeless and the family issues, in particular, are so powerful. The story is so original, as are the systems of magic, and they complement, and inform, the events as they unfold. There are many memorable characters in this series and a lot of them show up here in the first book. The main character himself is a royal bastard who can't remember his mother and never knew his father. He has two uncles, one nice and one not so nice. His grandfather the king, his instructor Chade, the fool, there are so many!
  I love this book so much that whenever I see someone has written that they didn't like it I am stunned. I don't know what to say. So, I say nothing but I do feel a little sad that they didn't have the same experience I did, and also that they probably won't read the other eight books and get to follow all of the other awful and awesome things that Fitz experiences over the course of his life.
  Assassin's Apprentice is easily in my top ten favorite books and I encourage everyone who hasn't read it to immerse themselves in the experience of this amazing story. 
 Review of: Skate the Thief (The Rag and Bone Chronicles Book 1)
by Jeff Ayers
August 10 - Review by Ron L. Lahr 
This story tries to answer a few big questions during it's 'Coming of Age' voyage of discovery, at least the main character needs to answer them for herself. The top three are: is there really honor among thieves? Can a monster be a good person? And, finally, when you owe two people who have helped you and they want opposite things how do you choose which one you will pay back? Some pretty heavy questions, right?
  The main character, Skate, is a young, female thief whose desire to learn to read really endeared her to me. I was definitely rooting for her and I was interested enough in what happened to her to keep reading. I'll admit that in the fantasy reading world I have a soft spot for assassins (FitzChivalry Farseer & Vlad Taltos) and Thieves (Locke Lamora & my own character - Dirk) so Skate had a leg up on a lot of other characters I've been reading about lately. This book may be a little more YA than any of those but Skate didn't let me down, either. She has had a tough life but still values friendship and doing the right thing, within reason. You have to do what is needed to survive, after all.
  I enjoyed the story, the characters and the setting, and those are the big three. I didn't feel like I had read anything like this story before, which I always love. Skate's self reflection about the three big questions was enjoyable and while everything didn't exactly turn out okay in the end it did lead nicely into the next book/adventure. 
  I look forward to reading it.
 Review of: Awakening (Histories of Drakmoor book 1)
by Robert M. Kerns
July 28 - Review by Ron L. Lahr 
  This book is basically 'portal fantasy'. It features a protaganist who arrives from another plane or world with his memory wiped so everything about his new world has to be explained to him. I love this sub-genre so it was a good place to start. 
  Things just kept getting better because I liked a lot of the characters, the magic system, the gods and the story. The book ended with a nice lead-in to the next book in the series, which I am also planning on reading.
  I don't want to give anything away but I loved how much is going on in this book. Politics, prophecy, secret organizations, religious conflict, training - there's a lot, but it didn't feel like too much.
  There were hints about Gavin's (the main character) past but I appreciated that most of them were left for future books to explore. I enjoyed everything not getting neatly wrapped up too soon. 
  There were a healthy sized handful of supporting characters introduced and I am excited to explore the storylines that were started for several of them. There wasn't a single one I thought was boring or less fun to read (I'm talking to you, Bran from GoT).
  Basically, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the rest of the series, which has four books so far. A great example of establishing a series in the first book and leaving me hungry for more.
 Review of: The Mage-Fire War (Saga of Recluse book 21) by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
July 23 - Review by Ron L. Lahr 
My plan is for most of my reviews to be about indie books available in Kindle Unlimited because that's where I get most of the things I read. I also like to think it may help those indie authors sell some more books. Mr. Modesitt definitely doesn't need my help, but I did spend the $15.99 to buy the book so I figured why not review it, too.
  While this wasn't one of my favorite books by Mr. Modesitt I am a huge fan and was not disappointed. Not exactly. I admit that my opinion of the quality of the Saga of Recluse books has been slipping but even with that I still enjoy them. This is the third book about this group of characters, which is new for Recluse books, and the characters are like old friends. When that's the case I guess I'm willing to cut the author some slack. Plus, it is book 21, and he's written so many other books, he must be around 100 years old now.
  By the way, for those of you who have read a lot of Modesitt's work this is another of his recent 'bunch of battles' books. That's my term for it, not his, but I think it describes the plots of these books fairly well. They have started feeling very similar to me but I still read them all.
  It made me rethink some things about the world of Recluse and I did like that a lot. I look forward to reading it again someday and seeing what else I pick up.
 Review of: The Other Magic (Passage to Dawn Book 1) by Derrick Smythe
July 21 - Review by Ron L. Lahr
  I ended up reading this book because, having never met, without being asked, the author did me a favor. It was such a nice thing to happen that I just had to check out his book. Then I loved the cover and the blurb.
  Thank goodness that all happened because I really liked it. There are multiple points of view and each group of characters is so well defined and believeable. It was so impressive! I found their motivations realistic and loved how fully realized the characters were. They were all so different from each other. I loved it.
  There are multiple people to like and dislike and while I could see certain things coming it was not simple enough for me to figure everything out, thank goodness.
  It was definitely a fantasy novel but it did not feel similar to something else I had read. 
  I've only got one problem with this book and that is that the sequel isn't out yet! Quit teasing us and publish it! I read the sneak peek at at the end of this book and am ready to jump right in to it.
 Review of: The Legend of the Kestrel (The Sylvan Chronicles Book 1) by Peter Wacht
July 11 - Review by Ron L. Lahr
  This book is a coming of age type of fantasy book. We watch the main character, Thomas, grow from a child into a young man, receive training, and discover his powers.
  It felt familiar, in a way. Which is not to say that the story was similar to any other book I had read. Rather, the feel of it was similar to other fantasy coming of age books. The world, the characters, and various other aspects felt known, in a comfortable way..
  It has a fun magic system, some interesting creatures, and I liked the group of good guys. There is family and honor to consider and it moves along pretty well.
  I read it so quickly I was surprised when I reached the end. It was so enjoyable that I immediately returned the book on Kindle Unlimited and grabbed book two of the series. I have already started the sequel, and that says a lot about how much I liked this book.

Sign up for my bi-monthly email newsletter!

I publish a Kathaldi Chronicles prequel short story in my newsletter on the 1st & 3rd Mondays of each month. There are also articles about the world the books take place in and behind the scenes looks at how I write. When you sign up HERE you'll also receive a Kathaldi prequel short story - Dirk goes to Church.

Ron Lahr - Author