Monday, December 27, 2021

Review: The Final Heir by Jon Monson

Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for a few days before the next celebration. To keep these days exciting, I have a stack of fantasy, science fiction, and some wonderful non-fiction for middle graders and young adult readers. 

Today's first review...yep, I squeezing in as much as I can before 2022 rings in...has a grabbing cover...or so I thought...and the blurb caught my attention. Plus, I was really in the mood for fantasy pure with battles, magic and such.

Anyone want to grab their armor, board a griffin, and fly past the clouds and beyond? 

by Jon Monson
Young Adult Fantasy

JANUARY 1st!!!

The world is free. The world is mine.

Some call him the Usurper, the Destroyer of Worlds. Mahzun calls himself the Savior of Man. A decade of war has brought him to the precipice of victory.

Zahara, a prodigious mage, is destined to wield the Power of Creation and put an end to the Usurper. But when that power mistakenly falls to Ekarath, her best friend and elite soldier incapable of casting the simplest of spells, destiny must be questioned.

Will the Usurper complete his victory? Or will Ekarath find the strength to be the hero he wasn’t destined to be?



Strong worlds clash over a last grip for power as magic, friendship, and the fight to survive keep this a fast-paced read.

Zahara is a mage, and although she's only been training a short time, proves to be talented beyond her years. Her best friend, Mahzun, isn't any different when it comes to his swordsmanship. When the Usurper brings his army to their kingdom's doorstep and destroys the leader, taking over everything, all seems lost. But Mahzun accidentally receives the magic and power Zahara was supposed to get from their ruler (not that she knew she was supposed to get it, by the way), and this throws everything on its head.

This is a rich, fantasy novel with tension, battle scenes, danger, quests, magic and so much more. There are unexpected twists, moments where everything seems lost, and victories to make the reader cheer. For fantasy fans, this is a read to pick up and get immersed in. And it is an exciting'd be wrong if I didn't say that.

I really enjoyed the first chapters as we get to see Zahara and Mahzun before the battles begin, training, playing, and causing a bit of mischief. The descriptions bring the city and the forest to life, letting the imagination take root and the world build. It's not over-burdened with descriptions or info dumps, and that makes it pretty smooth reading. While the fear and emotions are well based, and the danger comes while packing fear, as the tale goes on, the missing history and background starts to leave holes. These aren't huge and don't really disrupt the action enough to ruin the read, but the world doesn't become as rich as it could have. Still, it is a fun read.

The characters are well placed and have a lot on their plates. Zahara is talented but not arrogant, and the same goes for Mahzun. Mahzun, obviously, is out of his element, and it's easy to understand him as he does the best he can with something he has no idea really how to handle. The author keeps these two at a friendship level, which was refreshing and fits them very well. 

The Usurper is the one, though, that caught my attention. The author spends time fleshing him out by giving him chapters from his perspective, which gives great insight and makes him so much more than the 'evil' guy. The problem was that I liked him (to a certain degree) and wasn't sure why he was seen as evil, outside of the fact that he was trying to destroy the existing ruler. The Usurper and the rest of the world claims they are being suppressed. Since the world background is missing, there really isn't much reason to know if they are wrong or right. But since millions of  civilians turned into soldiers, giving  up everything for this cause, even their lives, it's hard not to assume they have a good reason to act this way. As for Zahara and Mahzun's ruler, he comes across very nice (and I assumed he is 'good'), but there's no way to know what he did or why his rule is the better of the two. So, this let the book begin with a strange balance, which left me undecided the entire way through. Although I did root for Zahara and Mahzun.

There is a lot going on in this read, and even with the uncertainty of the things I mentioned, it is a exciting tale with surprises and tons to enjoy. I'm going to assume that this is the first in a series and am excited to see how the author handles it from here.

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