Exiled by J.R. Wagner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I want to thank the author, J.R. Wagner, for sending me a copy of his book to read and provide an honest review.
Blurb from Goodreads:
James has never known an ordinary life. As long as he can remember, he and his family have been on the run—moving from place to place, never settling down, never growing roots. Now, just when he’s on the brink of manhood, the very thing his family has been trying to prevent tears him from all he has ever known and thrusts him into a place where he is powerless and alone.
Bent on finding a way back, James must brave a place reserved for the worst of his kind. He quickly learns that the land itself poses a greater threat than its inhabitants and if he is to have any chance of returning, he must work with the very people he’s been raised to fear.
James has known magic since just after he was born. As a sorcerer, his skills are exceptional yet when he wakes in The Never, his abilities are gone. Armed with nothing but determination and the will to survive, he braves a land wrought with dangers, mysteries and temptations meant to ensnare both body and mind and prevent escape forever.
This book was an interesting mix between Harry Potter and The Hobbit! I was not expecting it to be so.
James is the main character, a young sorcerer accused of a heinous crime and banished to The Never after being accused of killing one of the greatest sorcerers, Akil. However, James insists that he is not the murderer. He is full of emotion and that seems to be his downfall, what gets him in trouble and ultimately gets him banished to The Never.
Wagner has created a world full of magic and fantasy. A world where things are never quite what they seem to be.
The book alternates between the present, where James is fighting to escape The Never, a feat never before accomplished (at least the the knowledge of those who are currently banished there) and to flashbacks of James' life as he grows to be known as The Annointed One (the one who will save humanity from the Epoc Terminus). The flashbacks provide the reader with a rich history of how James' father, Stuart, comes to know and acquire the abilities to do magic, and teach it to his son. It also provides us with clues of who James can and cannot trust. James' family does everything possible to keep him safe, including moving often from place to place, never settling down to become familiar with their surroundings and the people they meet.
I really enjoyed the world building that Wanger put into this novel. It's interesting to become familiar with the land of The Never, which never ceases to show James new and exciting things. It's also exciting to watch as James regains his magical powers (which were lost to him when first banished to The Never). Wagner's descriptions make you feel like you are walking right along side his characters.
James meets many new people while in The Never, including Luno, Kilani, Roger and William (all of whom become his partners in exploring the lands of The Never in the hopes of figuring out how to escape back to where they came from). Luno becomes a teacher to James, keeping him in the dark on many things so that James can ultimately understand he is the one meant to help others escape. I have to say that I do not trust Luno 100%. There is just something about him that makes me feel as if he will, in the long run, turn on James once he gets what he wants from him. Kilani is James' love interest. Although we do not see any romance in this book, you can feel the tension building between them. And several times it is mentioned how she makes James feel. I have to say that as I was reading this book, I had this flash of Ahsoka from Star Wars The Clone Wars, and I have no idea why! I suppose my knowledge that J.R. enjoys Star Wars may have some role to play in that. William and Roger are characters that aren't truly explored in this novel. We get a glimpse as to who they are and how they are willing to help, but I don't really get a deep sense of their characters and I hope to find out more about them in the futures.
I did find some discrepancies in the writing, mainly the ages given at the beginning of the flashback chapters not coinciding with the actual age of James during that chapter. I was told that this was an editorial mistake and has since been fixed. And I do have to say that I really don't have a sense of what James truly looks like. This bothers me as I really like to be able to picture my main characters in my mind when reading a book. Finally, I do understand the idea that James is the only one who can help them leave the never, but I question how Luno knows so much (although I know he's done his research) seeing as others have not been able to cross the water to the islands they visit during their adventures. I wonder why it is Luno believes that the islands hold the key to them being able to escape. I feel like I need a lot more background on this topic.
Wagner has definitely created an interesting world full of action, adventure, intrigue and mystery. I was captivated from start to finish. And what a cliffhanger of an ending! I have to say that I am not normally a huge fan of fantasy, but Wagner really weaves a delightful and entertaining story. I am truly looking forward to reading book 2 of this series.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
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