Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Burning Isle by Will Panzo
Published by Ace on November 1, 2016
“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”
Cassius is not lost…
The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…
But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This a treacherous island where the native gods are restless, and anything can happen…
Again, I find myself reading a book because I’m an Ace Roc star. It is not one I would have chosen myself. I used to think I didn’t like historical type fantasy and now I know that’s not exactly true. Ace Roc has given me such an opportunity to grow and discover new things. I appreciate it.
The Burning Isle is the first book in a new series by a new author. There’s a nice interview at The Qwillery. I added the content warning because this book is dark. Magic is a factor here and it’s my favorite supernatural type. The primary themes here are revenge and justice. The violence on page does not feel real to me, perhaps being desensitized by so much of it and in a war like setting. This and the historical aspects made a break from reality for me.
Perhaps because I didn’t connect to the main character, Cassius, to feel I was him? This meant it was more an intellectual read rather than an emotional one. This is not all a bad thing, other than I am not sure how I feel about it. I liked it. There are plenty of thought-provoking ideas to race around in my head, revenge, justice, good, evil, greed, and loyalty to family and friends. To some, things are black and white; for some they are gray; and others don’t care to understand or classify things. This is a difficult world showing more evil than good; any solutions are in my gray zone.
While I didn’t become Cassius in my head, I still cared about him. We learn his history and his present. I guessed at his past, just barely before it was revealed. Now I want to know about his future.
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