Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to a life below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire's ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire's future leaders are trained.
As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.
Brock's compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, growing into a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.
“A wild adventure that keeps you guessing until the very end." – Michelle Areaux, author of Wicked Cries
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
Honestly, life would be easier if I could just give rainbows and unicorns to every book review and never have to have a conscience about the poor author who will have to fend off an attack on their 'baby'. But then I wouldn't have an honest review so I would leading some people to disappointment. So I will lay it out: I found the writing here to be problematic, the plot full of obvious holes, and the characters one-dimensional. Story: Brock wants more out of life - he wants a rune of the chosen to mark him as special. So he finds someone to give him a fake tattoo rune and then travels to a school of religion in order to better his life. Along the way, he takes his friend, who is also runeless. Yes, the above is an oversimplification. But that's how I felt when reading the story - it felt so much like a middle grade book or something dumbed down for a young audience. Motivations, world building, setting - it's all distilled to a very shallow level and then written that way. I honestly thought it was middle grade until the main character got aroused by every pretty girl he saw along the way and sometimes fell into bed with them. I guess buxom barmaids is the medieval fanboy answer to green alien slave girls for sci fi nerds. At some point, it felt very Marty Stu. The logic holes were the big problem - nothing was really thought out. E.g., in a society where everything is controlled by those with runes, why is it so easy to get a fake rune? And why does no one wonder when someone with a bandage over the forehead *right where a rune would be* is walking around? Why do the guys who do the illegal operation just walk our hero in to the guy doing it without any precautions or secrecy? Then let him loose in society when one word from him would lead the authorities right back to the guys doing it and their death? Heck, they don't even put him on a boat immediately afterwards and instead let him walk around with a *big old bandage on his forehead!*. How can I take this society seriously if even the author doesn't? Despite what the book says about this being set in an academy, it takes 40% in before we even see the academy. Cue pointless travels and commentary on discrimination against the unchosen in various villages along the way (no, really? People discriminate in medieval societies, too??). Then add in 'mysterious dream' that foretells our main character is a unique magical snowflake - but then not include any reason or worldbuilding why. It just feels so lazy to create a unique snowflake this way. The final insults, though were the characters. Of course, our main character is down on his luck so must resort to stealing to survive. But hey, he only steals from the evil and bad characters in society, so he's a good guy, right? Seriously, we don't need Disney princesses types as main characters in a book that is meant for adults. They can be nuanced and possess good and bad traits. Those were the most egregious issues for me. But the underlying problem was a very simplistic and straightforward style of writing that made our main character seem like an 11 year old on a grand adventure rather than an older teen (arousals from bar maids aside). I kept expecting little birds to comb his hair in the morning as they sang cheerful songs about his new 'strange' powers that have suddenly manifested. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
A very good storyteller with an interesting tale. When a child is born, each is screened by a Ministry Adept to see which rune is most prominent in them. Runes decide your position in society or if you have one. 1% of the population is Unchosen, which all believe means they have no runes. They are left to fend for themselves as best they can with no rights or benefits of citizenship. Unchosen get only the most menial jobs and are despised by those with rune marks. Brock is Unchosen but ambitious. He pays an artist to create a rune on his forehead. After it heals, he sets out to enter the Academy where Chosen of the highest rank are trained. Journeying with his friend ,Tipper, he learns he possesses a strange power. This frightened both boys. At the Academy he makes friends and enemies while Tipper finds a home. Brock meets a young lady like himself and they team up. They learn Unchosen do not lack runes but have one that the Ministry fears. It was used long ago to defeat an enemy, but it's power is still feared. There is a lot of fun in this book, adventures and mishaps.Great characters,well described world (though I would like to know how and when the runes show up on their foreheads. Not born with them or children wouldn't have to be read by Adept.) The pace was very good with no dull moments. A few errors of missing words or oddly used words. The only major issue was flow. There are 99 chapters because transition from scene to scene didn't happen any other way. Each chapter is only a few pages so needs help. I'm glad I got to read this book. Definitely a writer to keep on my reading list. Thanks to author, Black Rose Writing and Netgalley for the book.
A good read, looking forward to seeing further into this world in future books
It's a really good book and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I sometimes wish that someone would write a story where the central character, a poor peasant from a low caste family with an undiscovered talent goes to wizard school and Doesn't make an enemy of the offspring of a powerful aristocrat.
OK, it's got a touch of Hogwarts about it - which will do it no harm with younger readers - but I found enough originality in this to hold my attention. The world-building is good, the characters are clearly defined and credible, and it's not all about magic - there's a whole mix of supernatural and scientific here. Very enjoyable, even for veteran readers like myself, and I'll be interested to see how the rest of the series goes.