Tag Archives: Sword and sorcery

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “The Agben School,” BY AUTHOR @SPARKES777

the-agben-school-by-jo-sparkes

  • Title:  The Agben School, Book 2 of the Legend of the Gamesmen
  • Author: Jo Sparkes
  • File Size: 2569 KB
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Oscar Press
  • Publication Date: July 19, 2014
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN:  B00LYO1VFE
  • ISBN-10: 978-0-9853318-5-6
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Sword & Sorcery, Sports, Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

In the Author’s Words:

“Agben had stood for a thousand years. A mysterious school housing more than students, it was the seat of the powerful Women of Agben and the center for harnessing the potency of herbs. Few knew all that transpired within the walls.

And now Marra stood at its gate.

With friends and support stripped from her, the fragile life she’d built for herself now lays in tatters. And the source of this evil hunted her like a deer culled from the herd. The gateway before her was her only hope.

For as the city itself crumbled, all depended not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the valiant men who’d brought them this far. Everything depended on finding a magic powder in the vaults of Agben itself.

Everything depended on her.”

The second book in the series takes place in Missea. The third book, “The Dim Continent,” is in the works, and will be the last in the series. However, I’ll probably write more stories in this world because I won’t be able to resist.

From the Inside Flap: Hiding from an evil that stripped away friends and support, a young woman discovers the future of her race depends not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the heroic men who’d brought them this far. Everything depends on her.

 My Recommendation:

The Agben School is the exciting sequel to The Birr Elixir which I read and reviewed here.

The story resumes with Marra and the Truemen team finally arriving in the land of Missea, where Tryst is a Skullan prince, although nobody knows his real identity. The Skullan and the Trumen are the gamesmen. The Trumen are the smaller, weaker race, while the Skullan is the physically superior race which rules the kingdom.

New to the city, Marra looks for a shop where she can buy herbs for her elixir for the team. The boy running the shop presents her with a mysterious box. She keeps it hidden, not knowing its actual use, or who it was meant for. As a Truemen, Marra is required to be subservient to the Skullan, so she keeps her secret.

Marra’s herbalist skills out surpass many other Bristas. It is revealed that she possesses an acute sense of smell, a gift so rare, it earns her a coveted place as a student at the school. Once there, she learns the Women of Agben are the most powerful in Missea. There is a mystical magic found in the potions and elixirs created and taught at the institution. However, there is a dark magic that hangs over the palace. Soon it becomes apparent that only Marra can rid Missea of the evil malignancy growing within the castle walls and possibly within the Agben school.

Weaving throughout the story is the game of Comet. The “game” is played in an arena with two opposing teams. At an inner circle in the field, a line is drawn in the sand by a judge. It is forbidden for the teams to cross the line until the judge allows it. There is much jockeying for the balls by both team members. Four leather balls need to be dropped into a cone shaped area to score points, which are determined by the judge. Each ball contains distinctive markings which ascertain the number of points each ball is worth. As contact sports go, I envisioned the game to be a combination of football and hockey with players participating in a competition to the death to win, if necessary.

The author, Jo Sparkes, skillfully weaves a story within a fantasy kingdom that leaves you wanting more. The detail about the Agben School and the study of herbs was excellent. There is quite the mystery here, and I am sure all will be revealed in the final book of the series, The Dim Continent.

I must add that this book could stand alone because the main details from The Birr Elixir are intertwined within the pages of the story. Even so, I loved the first book and would encourage everyone to read it. The rich descriptions put you right into the action, and you feel like you are peeking over Marra’s shoulder waiting to learn her fate.

If you love epic fantasy with the added excitement of tournament games, you will love this book and the series.

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4-5-stars

 

 

jo-sparkes

Author, Jo Sparks

 

About Jo Sparks:

From television shows to articles for Arizona Sports Fans Network, Jo’s been writing for years. She’s taught screenwriting at the Film School at SCC, interviewed Emmit Smith and Anquan Boldin (as Arizona Cardinals), and went on camera to make “Stepping Above Criticism.”

Her fantasy ‘The Birr Elixir’ was awarded a Silver Ippy; her script ‘Frank Retrieval’ won the Kay Snow Award.

She’s probably most recognized as the lady walking her dog in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

You can connect with Jo Sparkes through her Twitter at https://twitter.com/Sparkes777

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

 

 

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#BookReview by @LRWLee of Earth’s End

Earths EndThis book touched my emotions in so many ways! Earth’s End by Elise Kova made my emotions soar, just to turn them raw. Rarely have I felt a book so deeply.

SUMMARY (from back): A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

WHAT I THOUGHT (WARNING THERE ARE SPOILERS!): Elise Kova is proving to be a master storyteller! I wanted to believe in the fairy tale relationship of Vhalla and Aldrick. I longed to.  At the beginning of the book the narrative picks up resolving the angst left at the end of Fire Falling where we didn’t know if Prince Aldrick perished in his fall or not. I sweated three long months refusing to believe he could have died. And I was right- woohoot!! This discovery shortly into book three eased my heart’s trepidation and I was off on another adventure, happy as a lark.

Vhalla and Aldrick grow much closer and even intimate during the middle of the book, causing my skin to tingle and sending my heart a thumpin’ . I saw the trust they shared and rejoiced for them – could life get any better for the pair??? Yet Kova couldn’t let us live in a fantasy realm, for there is a deeper narrative to be told and she began sprinkling hints that Vhalla was glossing over Aldrick’s faults…starting with his drinking. I will admit I, too, glossed over the prince’s faults in my hunger to view him as Prince Charming.

But even after Vhalla fulfills her vow to the Emperor, gaining the respect of everyone in camp in the process, things come to a head. Oh how I loathed the power-hungry dictator. Very few authors have created villians that get under my skin like this man, but when the emperor asserts himself, we are clear that he controls everything and the lives of everyone within his domain–I cringed. We in America take our freedom SOOO for granted–I was not made to live in subjegation to anyone but the Law, but everyone in the Solaris empire knows a very different truth. Kova did a brilliant job of revealing more of this antagonist throughout the book.

And then the end, the last third of the book, arrived. The first time I read it I kept saying “No! No! This can’t be happening!” I wanted to plug my ears and squeeze my eyes tight and make the upheval stop! I mourned what unfolded and found myself devastated and nearly screaming out in anguish alongside Aldrick.

So I read the book a second time after a day of decompressing…yes it was that good…and found more perspective as I was less emotionally charged. Amidst the chaos, Kova shows us that Vhalla and Aldrick’s relationship is toxic for they are the world of the other and neither has formed a foundation upon which to build something lasting…yet.  Vhalla comes to this realization first and it is only her courage that plunges the pair into a time of learning and personal growth.

This end to the book is very different to the panic from book two. It is a sober recognition that we must each become our own person before we can truly love another. While I resisted “going here,” I’m thrilled Kova is leading the way and I’m anxious to see what the pair learn about themselves in book four.

I gave this 5 stars with no reservations!

Buy Earth’s End on Amazon

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.