Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall is another exceptional fantasy read that I review for The WriteReads Blog Tour that well deserves the 5-star rating.
Title: Knightmare Arcanist
Author: Shami Stovall
Publication date: June 18th, 2019
Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.
Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.
So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.
In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.
My thoughts on Knightmare Arcanist
I absolutely loved this book! It’s fast-paced, has an engrossing story, imaginative world-building, and well-crafted characters.
Volke Savan’s dream is to become an arcanist like his idol, the legendary Gregory Ruma. To do so, he first needs to bond with a mythical creature, but due to his background he is forbidden to take part in the trials to bo bond with the two available phoenix so he decides to crash the “party”. To his dismay, none of the phoenixes chose him.
I’ve read plenty of fiction revolving a chosen one, which is a popular trope, especially in fantasy. Even my own fantasy novel, Forget Me Not, has a chosen one of sorts and a dark prophecy. Knightmare Arcanist is the opposite of that and I don’t even know if there’s a name for this trope. If there is, please leave a comment below!
Our main character, Volke wanted to bond with a phoenix and failed because he wasn’t the chosen one. Thus he had to find a workaround to become an arcanist. Luckily, he does.
Proving his worth in a dangerous situation, Volke earns the respect of a Knightmare, a mythical creature made of shadows and terror who offers to bound with him to save his life, but that comes at a price. Luthair, the knightmare has been bounded before and his arcanist was murdered. Now he seeks revenge and Volke must help him.
You know what they say: never meet your heroes! Volke is ecstatic as he gets to meet his idol, Gregory Ruma but his joy fades quickly when he had to face the harsh truth.
The one thing I didn’t like about this book is the spoiler contained in the blurb. I think it’s a major mistake! I wouldn’t have mentioned Ruma boing the bad guy in my review but this information was already in the book description. In the book, it takes quite a while until we figure it out.
Volke may not be the chosen one but he is a problem solver. He finds solutions to every problem and is not easily swayed by a difficult task. Every quality you need in a hero is present: bravery, wits, and charm. He is protective of his friends and earns the respect of his rival, Zaxis. He makes a good team with Illia, his adoptive sister. Impulsive at first, he slowly learns he needs to see the bigger picture to separate truth from deception
“You cannot see the whole tapestry if you stare at a single thread.”
Zaxis and Atty, the chosen ones who bonded with the phoenixes, although disliked Volke at first (mostly Zaxis) have a change of heart and even assist Volke when in need.
I loved the character dynamics in Knightmare Arcanist, not always predictable and plot twists are revealed bit by bit uncovering dark secrets that push the story forward.
The threat in this story is a plague that affects mythical creatures and corrupts their magic driving them crazy. The arcanists must figure out where this disease comes from and how to stop it. And if that isn’t enough, they also have to fight pirates.
Knightmare Arcanist is a page-turner that unravels a mystery in a fantasy world where humans and mythical creatures coexist, a mixture of How To Train Your Dragon and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It also reminded me of another book I read and reviewed a while ago, Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym Martineau. The plotline is entirely different but the magical creatures reminded me of it.
About the Author
Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction, with several best-selling novels under her belt. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators.
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