Esmes Indie Highlights/SPFBO: Road to Shandara by Ken Lozito

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This one is part of Lynn’s Books grouping and doesn’t have any feedback yet.

I listened to this on audiobooks, so forgive me for weird spelling. Vikas Adam did an amazing job with this narration so if you’re into audiobooks you may way to give this one a shot.

Bingo: Self Published, Dragons, previous square: protag that flies


Given the cover of this book I was expecting to jump into swords and magic right away, so I was taken aback when the book started off as an urban fantasy. This is the first “portal” fantasy I’ve read in a good long while.

The first 20% or so of the book is character and world intro and he’s still in the ‘real world’ up until then. The main characters grandfather just died and he watched it happen, as he died he gave Aaron a pendant and told him to keep it safe. The pendant starts giving him weird dreams, and eventually those nightmares become a reality when he’s attacked by forces from another world. As his grandfathers goodbye letter said, his life wasn’t what he thought it was, and it turns out his mother and grandfather had fled from an alternative world to this one.

He’s forced to enter the world of Safarian because the evil entities are hell bent on killing him, and staying in his world near his family only endangers them.

A trapped mage (trapped in an inbetween realm as a disembodied entity) named Collins has contacted Aaron and told him that he needs to find a prince that can help him on his quest to Shandara, the land his family is actually from. The fall of Shandara is a big deal in this world, because whatever happened has let in vile monsters that prey on dragons and are ruthless killing machines. Aaron has to find a way to fix what’s happened while escaping assassination attempts. There are many people who want him dead because he’s the last of his families line, and they are the key holders between their world and the ‘real world’ Aaron left behind.

Final Score: 7/10


Aaron as the main character, he’s a college student in his early 20’s who’s had his whole world ripped out from under him. Given all of that he’s handling himself well and adapting to his new life much better than I would have given the circumstances.

He’s determined to get revenge on those who hurt his family and brought him into this mess of a life where he’s constantly adverting danger. He’s been trained his whole life in sword play and horse riding, but he never knew what his grandfather had planned for him down the line. That training comes in handy in this world since he has to fight off would be killers frequently.

He has a love interest who is the daughter of the enemy who’s trying to kill him. The high Kings daughter, Sara, has defected to Aarons side because they’ve always treated her like crap. Her half brothers tried to kill her on more than one occasion trying to get her out of the way, she’s extremely skilled and intelligent so those plans never worked – but it didn’t leave her with any ingratiating feelings towards her family.

Final Score: 6/10

World Building:

The Hitharium people are an ancient race not of the Safarian realm, so there are at least 3 alternative worlds in this universe. They are a mysterious race that has all but retracted from the world after the fall of Shandara. They have a special connection with Aarons family line, and it’s probably responsible for his families connection to dragons. Aaron is able to talk to dragons and I’m always down for a book with intelligent dragons rather than blood thirsty mindless monsters.

Aaron can feel the life force of everything around him, especially when he’s holding his two swords passed down to him by his grandfather. It’s not something everyone can do and it comes in handy for Aaron because it alerts him when danger is near.

Aaron also has a wolf who was his grandfathers who works as an aide and protector to him through the book.

You can fast travel with these purple crystals, but they are rare and only the rich are able to afford them.

There are giant airships which are powered by magic which was cool to read about.

Final Score: 7/10


Adventurous and mysterious. There’s a lot of action going on in the book, there’s always someone looming around the corner trying to take down Aaron so the book read quickly. There’s also a lot of mystery and intrigue revolving around the fall of Shandara and you’re not sure what’s happened there for much of the book.

The prose was straight forward which also lent to the book going by pretty fast.

Pacing Final Score: 8/10

Writing Final Score: 8.5/10


I’ve seen a lot of portal magic where the main character becomes something awesome from nothing special. But, there was enough of the authors imagination in there to keep me interested.

Final Score: 6.5/10


  • lots of action
  • romance
  • adventure
  • dragons
  • lots of magic
  • character on a quest
  • portal fantasy

Final Score: 43/10 or 7.16/10

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