It's Book Review Wednesday, and I'm thrilled to bring you the review of a book by a great new author—and a great guy, Kevin Kessler! If you like dragons, wuxia-style martial arts, and elemental magic, you'll dig this series.
The Rosinanti Dragons are no more. Since their extinction nearly one thousand years ago these primal powerhouses have fallen into the obscurity of history’s forgotten lore. In that time, humans have come to dominate the world of Terra, peacefully ignorant to one horrifying truth: ancient evil stirs around them, waiting to reclaim its lost world.
For Valentean Burai, animus warrior of the kingdom of Kackritta, the details surrounding humanity’s victory over the Rosinanti are more than just a history lesson. The long-buried mysteries of this archaic conflict may hold the answers that he has so desperately sought regarding his own past.
As the awful truth of the Rosinanti’s supposed demise comes to light, Valentean must stand together with Seraphina, a magically gifted princess, to embark upon a mission to maintain order and light throughout Terra. Only together can these two lifelong friends face down the resurgence of the Rosinanti legacy, and combat the greatest threat their world has ever known.
My Review: 5 Stars
This felt like one of those classic high fantasy novels that were popular around the time of Dragonlance or Icewind Dale, with that same old school feel that brings back so many happy memories. At the same time, it delved into deeper themes like "the dark and light in all of us". All in all, one heck of a fun read.
I blasted through about 400+ pages in one sitting. The beginning was most enjoyable for me, though I felt it lagged a little as it approached the climax. However, there were a couple of plot twists in the book that totally caught me by surprise—always something I enjoy.
Aside from a couple of "first book mistakes", it found this to be one of the best books I've read this year. Can't wait to dive into Book 2 and beyond.
Here's a Taste:
Pain seared through his faded consciousness, reminding him to breathe. He would have fallen to death’s embrace had it not been for the searing grip of agony. Still, however barely, he clung to life. It took considerable effort to open his heavy-lidded eyes, their weight monumental to bear in wake of the thrashing he had endured. Through the haze of blood and dizziness, the boy, barely old enough to call himself a man, took in what remained of his surroundings. What had once been a beautiful crystalline cave now laid in fiery ruin. What had once been an enclosed structure, safeguarding its occupants against the powerful wind and snow that raged across the white landscape, now lay bare before the might of the elements.
The cold did little to cool the angry burns scattered across the boy's flesh, now beginning to crack, ooze and blacken. A cough ripped its way from his lungs as a slow birth of blood wound red rivulets down his arms and legs. The morbid flow pooled around him, warm and sticky against his skin as it spread along the snow and ice.
The boy stared blankly at the frosted sky, resigned beneath a thickening blanket of falling snow. He turned and saw a tattered man clad in long black robes lying mutually prone to the stinging of the bitter wind. The boy's eyelids narrowed approvingly. The body showed no signs of life. At least I managed to do something properly before things got out of hand.
His ego stirred as he examined the lifeless figure. It inspired the boy to move, but pain ripped through him with renewed intensity and a gurgled howl leaped from his throat. He turned his head slowly to stare at his ruined right arm, now fallen listlessly at his side. He gazed at it with a grimace of dread; it more resembled that of an abused corkscrew than an arm, having snapped grossly at the elbow joint.
Just beyond his outstretched hand laid a girl clad in a blue dress that danced around the contrast of her silent body. While the lifelessness of the first figure filled him with accomplishment, this visage in blue startled his heart. How had he failed her so? The boy desperately tried to extend his ruined arm toward his companion with tears spilling from his eyes, turning blood and grime to mud on his cheeks. His initial flutter of valiance was now gone. How had it come to this?
Then, as if an answer to his silent angst, a low growl filled the air like the rumble of shifting rubble. Tearing his eyes from the girl, he struggled to lift his head, just enough to stare at the vision of death that hovered before him. The creature was inconceivably massive, with every bit of its body, from tip to tail covered in red rock-like scales. A pair of impressive wings extended outward, framing its enormity. Through the glowing miasma of snow, the boy could still see the creature’s most defining feature: a pair of flame-red eyes. These were eyes the boy had known all too well and for far too long, eyes that haunted his waking and unconscious hours alike since childhood. Now here he was, finally faced with them one more time—the last time.
The beast reared back, its head whipping the air. As familiar as it was, the boy still could scarcely believe what he was to face: an actual dragon, the most ancient of enemies, believed to have been extinct since times only known by popular fable.
The crimson monstrosity slowly opened its massive mouth, rows of razor sharp white teeth glinting in luminescence as a red glow began to gather at the back of its throat. Now would come the fire. Now would come the end. He had hoped, should this moment ever come, he would face death bravely; however, the gentle quaking of his intact limbs coupled with sharp frenzied intakes of breath betrayed him. A medley of stark emotions accompanied his growing dread: anger, disbelief, denial. The purveying emotion, however, despite his defiant wish was sheer terror. He gritted his teeth, determined not to allow the fear to continue playing out on his face—those murderous red orbs would not have the satisfaction of consuming his panic. Then, as the fiery glow flared from the dragon's massive maw, the boy heard his name, spoken so softly he was almost sure his desperate mind had imagined it.
His head snapped to the side, seeing his companion slowly stir. She was alive after all, and now they were going to die together.
The dragon’s head darted forward, filling the air with stifling humidity before flames would burst forth to burn its victims to ash. Her weak fingers reached for him with agonizing slowness. Their hands crept closer until he could feel the warmth of her skin against the pads of his fingertips. So tantalizingly close. If he could only touch her for one final moment, he could face his death a more complete person. But they were out of time.
In this, his final moment, fear mocked him from the shadows of his mind, as it always had these many years.
Everything dies, Valentean. No flame can burn forever.
About the Author
Kevin J. Kessler lives in Orlando Florida, where he owns the White Dragon Podcast Network, which puts out weekly podcasts on a variety of topics from Walt Disney World, to movies, television, comic books, video games and more.
A lifelong geek, Kessler can often be found at the many theme parks and local attractions in Orlando. He developed the story for Rosinanti as a sophomore in high school, sixteen years before the book’s release.
Since an early age, Kessler has been an avid reader, often found lost within the magical worlds found within the pages of fantasy novels.
Find the book on Amazon: mybook.to/rosinanti
Connect with Kevin on Facebook: facebook.com/kevinjkesslerauthor
Tweet at him: twitter.com/kevinjkessler
Join the Rosinanti Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/rosinanti