Review: The Withered King

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It’s been a long time since I have read anything that splices so many genres together and Ricardo Victoria really takes the blender to science fiction and fantasy in his debut novel.

Small disclosure: He sent me an e-ARC of his book that released on August 20th from Shadow Dragon Press in exchange for a review.

The reader primarily follows Fionn blessed by a power called “The Gift” and wielder of an arcane Tempest blade. Haunted by regrets and guilt, he agrees to help Gaby and Alex as they track down a missing person. When an ancient evil arises it will be up to the three of them to stop it, while Gaby and Alex will have to master their own Gifts and Tempest blades. The question will be, can Fionn overcome his past so he can save the future of his world? In a land that blurs the lines between science and magic, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Victoria does a fantastic job with painting an epic science fantasy world that encompasses so much of nerd culture. There’s a very modern setting that seems out of place here, but actually grounds the world, while still being amidst sci fi and fantastical marvels. The action is all top notch and meticulously choreographed to a point that it often reads like an action movie or a video game rather than a book. The pacing can be erratic, since each chapter reads in an almost episodic format and Victoria can become rather hung up on descriptions, which slows the overall pace, these small pieces do not become a larger obstacle as the plot unfolds.

Fionn and the gang are all super-powered individuals, but they never lose their humanity, despite the insanity that finds and follows them throughout the plot. Victoria should be commended on this, considering how often the book slips into pulpy, fun, but often violent action scenes. Readers who also enjoy Final Fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, or Star Wars will find a home here in Victoria’s world.

It will be interesting to follow Victoria, as more of his highly original stories emerge, so he is certainly not one to miss!

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