By: Jon Skovron
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit Books
I was drawn the The Ranger of Marzana because I love stories of rangers. If were ever to pick a fantasy character I could be, it would always be ranger. The cover of the book is gorgeous, and the summary was very promising. There is LBGTQIA representation, and that is always a strong point no matter how I feel overall about a book. However, for me this book was an average read, and there were many aspects that I felt didn’t work.
Sonya is the Ranger of Marzana, and her brother Sebastion is a wizard. Sebastian, who is 17, lives with his parents, his father is a famous retired soldier in the Imperial Army. While Sebastion wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, he is very much against it, as well as forbidding Sebastion to practice his magic. When their father is murdered by Imperial soldiers, Sebastian and his mother, Irina, flee to Izmoroz. In a seemingly short time, Sebastion is in the army and using his magic. Sonya, who rarely comes home, finds her father and her mentor have been killed. She is more upset at her mentor dying than her father. It was strange that the father is murdered, and they all just move on with little to no mourning like he never mattered. It was a very odd reaction.
I didn’t connect with many of the main protagonists. Mr. Skovron certainly had Sonya embodying everything a ranger is, and Sebastian was the perfect soldier and learns his powerful magic. Irina was very cold and showed little emotion, and when her husband dies, she doesn’t address very much, only mentioning him briefly at times. Sebastian also gets engaged rather quickly, to an upper-class young woman named Galina. While their conversations were a little over the top with sweetness, Galina is probably the most complex of all the characters and figures prominently in the second book. Sebastian is said to be the most “powerful sorcerer the world has ever known”, and while we see some of his capabilities, he didn’t seem to live up to that reputation. I do like magic systems where it exacts some toll on the wielder and they need time to recover. The toll this takes on Sebastion seemed a bit too much as it ages him the more he uses it. Perhaps he should have listened to his father. There were some good characters, however, overall, they were just not engaging enough to draw me fully into the story.
Two characters that did work for me were Jorge Eluyar and Blaine Ruaric who befriend Sonya. She rescues Jorge from bandits. He is from the vibrant southern part of the empire called Raiz, and is an apothecary studying at the Imperial College of Apothocary in Izmoroz. He was a breath of fresh air amongst the other characters. Blaine was much the same, only he is a captain from one of northern clans in an area called Uaine. I simply enjoyed their presence as they added a bit of humor to counter the abrasiveness of Sonya.
There were elements that did work very well. Sonya serves the Lady of Marzana, the Goddess of Death. When a ranger dies, they meet The Lady. She doesn’t let them die; she takes part of their humanity piece by piece until they become more animal-like. Each ranger is associated with a different animal, and Sonya is the fox. I thought that this concept was very unique and intriguing.
Izmoroz is on the brink of war with the Imperial Empire, but they do not have the resources to win. It is Sonya who travels north to Uaine to find the people that are rumored to fight with the undead. Zombies are certainly not a new concept, but this was very different and it worked well into the story. Mr. Skovron does write good battle scenes.
Overall, The Ranger of Marzana was not a bad book. I simply didn’t connect too much with the story or the characters. However, I know there are readers who will love it if you love ranger stories, and I would recommend that you give it a try.
Summary (from NetGalley)
When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths–one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it–in this thrilling new epic fantasy.
Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.
When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.
But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he’s fighting for the empire.
My sincere thanks to Orbit Books for a copy of the book and NetGalley for providing me with an eBook in exchange for an honest review.
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