Unique talent always attracts attention...
In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword is prized above all else. For Soren this means the chance to live out his dreams.
Plucked from a life of privation, he is given a coveted place at Ostenheim's Academy of Swordsmanship, an opportunity beyond belief.
Opportunity is not always what it seems however, and gifts rarely come without conditions. Soren becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of intrigue and treachery that could cost him not just his dreams, but also his life.
After reading the blurb you're probably thinking this is your standard fantasy book in which the hero goes through the usual dramas of school, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong with this one, as there are the usual cliches, but not as expansive as you might think.
The story is based on a young man called Soren. At the start of the book he's a homeless street urchin, who relies on stealing to live. Soren is quick, agile and has a natural affinity to sword fighting. His raw talent with a sword is spotted by an influential nobleman and sponsors him to go to a special academy, which trains young men to become capable swordsmen.
As main characters go, I liked Soren. He wasn't your typical hero in that he had indomitable sense of justice, and he wasn't an anti-hero either. He was just himself and made good and bad decisions.
The story moved from arc to arc at a quick pace. Perhaps, a little too fast for my preference, as I felt that there wasn't enough depth in the storyline for me to digest. The author introduced some heavy topics into the book, but due to the blistering pace of the book it didn't really evoke any critical emotions in me and it felt like just words on a page.
The book is told throughout in Soren POV and whilst it did help in developing his character, it left the other characters sitting on the fence. The result was that the secondary characters felt... well, secondary and I felt indifferent to whether or not they lived.
One last positive...
I liked the fact that the author didn't spend the whole book on the monotonous day to day routines of school and the drama associated with it.
One last negative...
The beginning of the book felt a bit stilted. Some of the sentences were awkward to read and didn't flow well. However, as the book progressed, the writing improved remarkably and it was a clear case of the author growing in confidence.
An enjoyable book with a very likeable character in Soren. He's the type of main character that I like to read - pragmatic and intelligent.
Out of 10 Stars:
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