The Magicians of Ysavar by Z.B. Lee

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The Magicians of Ysavar by Z.B. Lee
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Johan Finley dreams of being a warrior for his home, Center City, but he is devastated when his own arrogance costs him his dream. When all seems lost, a cheery little fellow comes knocking on his door. Johan could never expect the fantastic journey that awaits.

There is one problem: Blazer, an enchanted sword, has fallen into the wrong hands. A shadowy enemy seeks to use this powerful weapon to turn the tides in a greater war of good versus evil. Johan must find the strength to face down this sinister foe and take back the sword before it’s too late.

Under the tutelage of a wise magician and a battle-tested knight, along with the friendship of a courageous halfling, Johan is going to learn what it means to be a true hero in the Order of Ysavar. But when the fate of the world rests on his shoulders, will he crack under the pressure? Or will he rise to the occasion?

Sometimes adventure sneaks up on you when you least expect it to.

The world building in this novella was fantastic. It explained everything the reader needed to know clearly while still leaving ample room for a sequel to dive much more deeply into the history of Articus and what the various races in this world thought of each other. These were complex topics that Johan and the audience were just beginning to understand. The author did such a good job of explaining them and showing what life was like for the members of the Order of Ysavar that I felt as though I were walking alongside the characters every step of the way.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to character development, especially when it came to Johan. Other characters mentioned his faults a few times, but there weren’t enough opportunities for the audience to see whether their opinions of Johan were correct or how he grew as a result of his experiences in my opinion. Even a few extra scenes showing this would have been sufficient. This was the only thing holding me back from selecting a five-star rating.

The plot was fast-paced and exciting. I was intrigued by how it explored what happens after someone failed to accomplish a goal in one of the very first scenes. That wasn’t something I’ve seen discussed in quite the same way in most of the fantasy I’ve read, so it immediately piqued my attention. It’s always nice when authors play around with the audience’s expectations and keep us guessing like that. This is all I can say on that topic without sharing spoilers, but do pay close attention if or when the storyline veers away from what you assumed might happen next.

The Magicians of Ysavar made me yearn for more.

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