In the fantasy land of Ismark a child slave called Eirick has his life thrown into chaos and adventure by a blaze in his slave encampment. Thus starts the journey where we join Eirick on his life exploring new places and battling cultures.
Meanwhile around him lays a more hidden world of political manipulation, greed, treachery and barbarism.
In this first book of the new Ismark series we enter an exciting and wonderful original fantasy world inspired by ancient Norse culture as well as touches of Roman and Persian culture as well as adventures exploring the darker and more noble aspects of people that must live in such a world.
Being a fan of Norse flavored fantasy, I was excited to get a chance to review Ismark: The Marked Boy. Finding that it also had a bit of Roman and Persian flavor thrown in to the mix, I was curious to see what the author created. What I discovered was a gritty fantasy world filled with struggle, desperation, hope and betrayal, with enough action to keep any fantasy fan interested.
The characters in this book are definitely a strength, especially the main protagonist, Eirick. We see Eirick have an interesting character arc, starting as a slave in a mining town in his conquered country, and proceeding through various trials to becoming a successful fighter in the Arena in a large city in the Sorian Empire, where his struggles only continue, but which opens a path for future hope for Eirick and his companions.
The secondary characters are an interesting bunch, including an educated healer woman enslaved with Eirick, his overseer, who is a former warrior coasting on past glories. There is also a subplot about Eirick’s former master, who is on the run from his debts and has struggles of his own. We get to see all these story lines weave around each other, and collide in the final climactic conflagration.
The author did an excellent job creating a world that has some fantastical elements, but also has some resemblance to the ancient world. Ismark has a very Scandinavian feel to it, While the Sorian Empire and the Free Cities Islands seem to have a bit of the Roman and Persian influence I mentioned earlier. They are rivals, with the bigger Sorian Empire being the played off by the Free Cities political wiles. Its very interesting watching the dynamics of the world play out.
With its various cultural and story line elements, I can see Ismark appealing to a lot of fantasy fans. With it’s emphasis one more realistic fantasy elements, I can even see it appeal to fans of historical fiction. I am excited to see where the author takes this world in future installments.