4 out of 4 stars
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On the Trail of the Ruthless Warlock by Lynne Armstrong-Jones is a fantasy novel. When Creda goes to visit her sister, she discover with great horror that the place where her nomadic tribe set an encampment was devastated. There are no traces of the inhabitants, but what remains of the camp points to some kind of attack. Creda is a young sorceress, so she goes back to the Tower of Giefan, where the Superiors live and work, to report her discovery. This event adds to disturbing rumors about a warlock driving an army closer and closer to their kingdom for some dark purpose, so the Superiors decide to invoke the Seer to ask for guidance. The response starts a quest to look for a witch who can offer them more information. The local prince sends some soldiers with them, and a lone warrior who goes by many names joins their quest.
This novel tells a very classic type of fantasy story, with sorcerers, witches, dragons, and giant snakes with magic powers. I can't honestly say that its premises are original, as there's an evil warlock with an ominous purpose fought by a group of sorcerers and sorceresses who want to protect their kingdom. A prophecy leads to start a quest in search of the pieces of a talisman that can help them defeat the warlock. This choice allows the author to focus on the plot and characters, without the need to include long explanations for the various elements in the novel.
If there's something I didn't like about this novel, it is the setting, which seems a bit undefined. I mean, I wished the author included some more information about the setting, for example telling us more about the kingdom and its people.
Since the beginning of the novel, you can see that it's about the journey much more than the destination. That's not just a figure of speech because most of the plot is about a quest with a physical journey. There are a lot of adventures with dangers for the protagonists and occasions for some character development. Sister Creda is the main character, a young sorceress who completed her studies and has to pass her final tests. During the quest, she's helped by Superior Veras, a senior sorceress who mentors her. Creda's development, which also means her powers' development, is the part of the novel I liked the most because, despite her magic, she's a normal young woman, so readers can easily connect to her.
The novel contains no profanities at all, and there are just some flirting by Nico, the lone warrior, with the women, nothing erotic. For these reasons, I find it suitable for young people. The editing is very good as I found very few errors. My criticism about the setting is minor compared to the novel's merits, so I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. If you like fantasy and want to read a self-contained novel under 300 pages with a linear plot rather than a long series, I recommend On the Trail of the Ruthless Warlock.
On the Trail of the Ruthless Warlock
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