Black Rose Writing

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Orcs, dwarves, and elves go to war in WRAITH LORDS OF ZEIGLON

By Steve Stephenson and K.M. Tedrick

IR Rating:
WRAITH LORDS OF ZEIGLON is an epic fantasy adventure that sticks too hard to conventions, but delivers a fast-paced and fun read.

The evil goddess Adois has sent her vampire warlock champion Taza to find the missing piece of her powerful staff and to command an immense army of orcs, giants, dark elves, undead, and other creatures that would conquer the world. A small group of heroes journey to stop them by obtaining the missing piece of the staff of the virtuous god Adaman. These include great wizard Celedant, prophesied human hero Prince Tarquin, elves, dwarven warriors and clerics, a shapeshifting dragon, and more they meet along the way.

Book 2 of the War of the Staffs trilogy offers up an epic adventure across a lush world where peril lurks out front and in hidden spaces and good people come in many shapes and sizes, races, and classes.

The writing has some problems common in inexperienced fantasy authors. There is indiscriminate use of omniscient point of view, which often breaks suspense with expository info dumps. The story also employs overused high fantasy clichés, such as aloof elves and elven archers, dimwitted giants and orcs, and one-dimensional, condescending, megalomaniac villains who say things like, “You foul, insignificant little worm.” Hardcore fantasy readers will probably find these timeworn archetypes acceptable, but readers seeking more variety from standard fare may be left wanting. There are, however, some villains who are more complex, with chimera-riding warlock Melgor being one of the more interesting ones, as he is unassumingly insightful and competent, quietly weighing options and accomplishing big deeds without fanfare.

Although the plot and characters lack novelty, the writing is spirited and colorful, there is plentiful action and intrigue, and thrilling fight scenes with many different frightening monsters and fantastic spells. Originality may not be the story’s strength, but it delivers a brisk, compelling saga that’s fun to read throughout.

The authors did themselves a disservice by quoting a fictional author’s praise before the start of their novel, when the work stands on its own as an engaging magical epic easy to get absorbed in for long hours. Although mostly a conventional swords and sorcery fantasy, WRAITH LORDS OF ZEIGLON achieves what it sets out to do—deliver a diverting, entertaining story.

~Christopher James Dubey for IndieReader



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