Monday, October 10, 2022

Today's read... Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder

The title of today's read sounded dark and somewhat October-y to me. Plus, I love the cover, the catch phrase, and the blurb. Is that a roaring lion/monster/creature in the background? Or maybe a mountain with a cave and waterfall-thingy? And do you see the bones? Or aren't those bones? Yep, the layers have my imagination taking off.

This one did come out last year and is the first book in a series, whose second book is coming out soon...of which I'll also be reviewing, so keep your eyes open for that. But let's hit this book first, shall we?

Amassia, #1
by A.K. Wilder
Entangled Teen
YA Fantasy
400 pages

Raise. Your. Phantom.

For fans of epic fantasies and sweeping adventures, this ensemble cast will immerse you in a world of unique magic, breathtaking action and unforgettable characters.

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come …

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.

A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.

A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.

And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.



Power plays, epic journeys, high sea adventures, bloody sword battles, magical creatures, bones, and romance all weave together to form a grabbing read.

Ash is a scribe, a job she loves. Her only wish is that she'd finally be promoted. Her goal seems small compared to her best friend's, who just happens to be the heir to the throne...if he could finally call forth his phantom and control it. To assist in this, he's sent across the see to a training ground with a small entourage, and Ash is assigned to be the recorder. But as their journey begins, the problems mount. Not only do they have to hide the Heir's identity thanks to the growing tensions between nations, but every step of their planned journey falls apart. With a seafaring guide seemingly being the answer to their prayers, they might have a chance to make it to the training grounds. But they have completely underestimated how many want to see the Heir dead at any price.

This starts with a prologue, which sets the tone and lays a bit of world building before the tale shoots off. From there, we meet Ash, a talented and engaged scribe, who's looked down upon due to her non-savant status (lack of a phantom or creature with a talent, which can be called forward as needed). But her strong sense of self-worth keeps her from being a victim, which was refreshing and inspiring. There are quite a few other characters, some of which gain more depth than others, but each has their own pull and shine. The chapters slide through various points of view, giving the importance and depth where it needs to be as the intrigue and secrets weave and grow. 

Intrigue and agendas twist and turn as more and more comes to light. While there's political plays at home to launch the story, the journey uncovers the scheming of nations beyond...and even more beyond those. Ash also runs across ancient hints of secrets, which barely starts to unfold even as the first novel ends. As if this weren't enough, there are also personal agendas, which weave through the layers, oblivious to other strings beyond. It's hard to predict much on that end, which is wonderful, especially since it leaves so much for the series to explore. Other ends, however, are more predictable. Especially on Ash's end, but this is laid out well enough that it still works...and hints that there are also twists to come. Her last moments in this read hit with more of a quick blast then could have been, and I'm hoping the second book sweeps it up right to make it work. Which it really might pull off and more. 

Toss in the bloody battle scenes, fighters who swirl with swords and relish in the dangerous game, hints of magic, golden friendships, and romance...maybe a tad too much flirty romance...and it's an action packed read with barely any breath to spare. Fans of adventure and intrigue with fantasy, realm wars, and more are going to enjoy this one quite a bit.

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