- GORGEOUS cover!
- Sibling rivalries!
- Magic… but at a price
- traitorous lovers
His sister’s actions had made reconciliation impossible. But he reminded himself that even if he had lost his sister, and barely recognized his mother in looks or speech, he had a new family: the noble Commander Vittorio, the wily General Zaniolo, the stalwart Rykov, his loyal men, and of course the beautiful and gentle Galina Odeyevtseva, who comforted him when the burdens of leadership grew heavy.Sebastian’s fiancee, Galina, was arguably the most compelling character in the novel. As it progressed, I was pleased to see her get additional screen time. She and her father have been dedicated to preserving Izmorozian culture for ages; although she’s not a native resident, she recognizes the horrors of imperialism that have been inflicted on the land. Initially, she views Sebastian as an opportunity to take their conquerers down from the inside with him by her side. Gradually, these hopes are dashed… and she resolves to use her connection with him to betray the empire and support the Izmorozian uprising. She manipulates the other members of the army, hiding behind a facade of feminine naiveté.
“And to what do we owe the rare pleasure of your feminine charms?” he asked. “Merely a longing to see my beloved. He has just returned from a mission that took him away from me for several days and I simply could not wait until supper to see him. You know how weak willed and impetuous womenfolk can be, General.”Sonya, in contrast with both Sebastian and Galina, spends most of her time among small, rural villages. She’s committed to working alongside the people. Her dialogue is peppered with modern slang and phrases. In text, it’s made clear that this is meant to represent peasant vernacular. For me, though, it felt jarring and out of place. It was a lot like how I speak to my friends. It’s not a way of speaking that I associate with a fantasy world. If I had been more invested in the characters and better understood their motivations, I think I would have enjoyed their rivalry much more. As it was, it seemed to lack soul. I didn’t really have a particular reason to care much about Izmoroz, didn’t really understand what motivated Sonya, and Sebestian often just seemed like he was awful for the sake of it. This could have been interesting and compelling if the author had dug a little deeper and done something a bit more original than a black-and-white imperialists-vs-natives story. The Ranger of Marzanna needed a little more depth and a little more polish. It has some great elements, but I regret to say that they don’t quite live up to their potential. On the whole, the book was aggressively mediocre.
Jon Skovron writes fantasy novels for adults and teens. He is the author, most recently, of the Empire of Storms trilogy, published by Orbit Books. The first book, Hope & Red, which Sci-Fi Bulletin called “A rip-roaring tale of revenge”, was published June 2016. The second book, Bane and Shadow, was released on February 28th, 2017, and the third book, Blood and Tempest, November, 2017. His next fantasy trilogy, The Goddess War, begins with The Ranger of Marzanna, due April 2020. He is also the author of several Young Adult novels, including Misfit (2011), which Holly Black called “a diabolically delightful paranormal about a teen girl discovering her inner strength and power — and her potential for darkness”. Man Made Boy (2013) was a Junior Library Guild selection and shortlisted for the Inky Reader’s Choice Award in Australia. io9.com said “If Man Made Boy hasn’t been optioned for a film or at least a CW series by the end of the year, we can be assured that Hollywood has actually forgotten how to read.” The audiobook, which Jon recorded for Random House’s Listening Library, was named Best Fiction Read By Author for Publisher Weekly’s Listen-Up awards. The sequel, This Broken Wondrous World, also a Junior Library Guild selection, was published August, 2015. Jon’s short stories have appeared in publications like ChiZine and Baen’s Universe, and more recently in anthologies such as GRIM from Harlequin Teen and Summer Days and Summer Nights from St. Martins Press. He lives with his two sons just outside Washington DC. Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any questions about it? Let me know in the comments below!