SPFBO4 Review: Sorcerous Rivalry by Kayleigh Nicol

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I had seen quite a few positive reviews pop up for this as part of my TBRindr project, so I had high hopes for this one despite the fact that I knew it was going to be a romance heavy novel. I liked this one, and I have also passed it on to our resident romance reader, Superstardrifter, to get her thoughts on it as well.

Right away you know that this is a high fantasy story since magic and shapeshifting appear in the very first chapter. Reshi is a shapeshifter/mage and his kind were almost wiped off the planet during The Great Mage Hunt which was headed up by none other than his father, the king. Being the king’s son didn’t spare Reshi or his other siblings from the hunt, and all of them have now gone into hiding since there are large and tempting bounties for their heads.

He’s been hiding out in a very small farming community taking up residence at an inn which is run by his friend Wix. She lets him stay there for free in exchange for some favors to help boost business. Reshi is able to shapeshift into a cat and he can inconspicuously siphon energy off of people near him. It’s how he recharges his magical ability and he doesn’t ‘hurt’ anybody, it just makes it so after they’ve been siphoned they’re extra tired in the morning. Having a bunch of tired guests at the inn makes them buy large quantities of tea from the innkeeper. Wix herself is kind of interesting, she’s a Fae and can communicate with wood or trees – Oaks, for example, have high integrity and are worth listening to, while pines are shady motherfuckers that can’t be trusted.

A stranger comes into town and stays at the inn, Reshi goes about his normal business shifting into a cat and siphoning off energy, but something strange happens because this person seems like a bottomless well of energy. No matter how much Reshi takes, the man is spry and energetic in the morning. The man is a mage hunter, the small town that Reshi lives in caught his eye because they are one of the few villages that haven’t reported any harassment from magical creatures like centaurs or griffons, and that usually means the village has magical protection. Reshi’s cover is blown and he goes to seek out his siblings, none of which he’s never met in a last-ditch attempt to try and save himself. The first sibling he seeks out is his sister Cera, she’s been visiting him in his dreams since he was a child and she’s been begging him for years to come and find her. She’s a far-speaker and far-seer, it allows her to both communicate with people over long distances and to observe where they are and what they’re doing. It’s not a deadly power in the conventional sense, but it can be useful, especially when part of a team.

The siblings have taken different routes to combat the bounty on their heads, most have stuck to hiding, but one of them has made a challenge to come and find her on the bloodiest battlefield in the world – so far she’s killed over 40 mage hunters and counting.

The Queen is dead and the king is dying without an heir, his wife was always very sickly and never produced an heir – so all of his children are both bastards and magic users. Not all of Reshi’s siblings are kind and welcoming like Cera, some of them are trying to assassinate all of their remaining siblings in an attempt to have the sole claim to the throne. So Reshi isn’t just being hunted down by mage-hunters, he also has to run from his own family.

There are lots of different kinds of magic in this, so if you’re someone who gets overwhelmed by a lot of magic and prefer low fantasy stories this one may not be for you. I, however, love that shit. There are shapeshifters, people talking to trees, fireball throwing assholes, lighting bolt douchebags, people who can turn inanimate objects into living things, telepathic abilities, scrying abilities, weather magic – basically anything you can think of, there’s that kind of magic.

Reshi is able to shapeshift into any of the well-known mage “familiars”, so he’s not able to change into something like a bear, to his disadvantage he’s limited to less than lethal forms. A rat, a raven, a snake…. and a spider. What I found kind of funny is that he’s a very specific type of spider, he claims that he’s not venomous. 99.9% of spider species are venomous, with just two families of spiders being nonvenomous – so basically Reshi looks like this Reshi Spider . He’s a light-hearted guy and a very easy character to like, he can be charming and funny and doesn’t mean anyone any harm. He’s also bisexual and is flirting back and forth with his love interest for about half the book before it goes anywhere for real. I tend to gravitate away from romances, but because this one was such a slow burn I didn’t mind it. It’s insta-love that turns me off most of the time, but the romance didn’t truly start until ~170ish pages into the book and I much prefer that kind of plotline.

The writing was quick and straightforward, there wasn’t much in the way of simile or metaphor and I wouldn’t describe the book as purple. It’s meant to be an easy fast read with a fun story. The writing was clean, I don’t know if she used an editor but I didn’t catch many errors. This book did hit a pet peeve of mine though, in-world curse words that have meaning in English drive me bananas. “Dust” is a curse in this book so things like “Dusting” “Dust off” “Dust it” were all used and I can’t help but get a little taken out of the moment. I’ve never been able to adjust to real words being used as curses in fantasy.

This was pretty fast paced, it was one thing after the next with this kid and he just had to keep running until he found a safe place to be. That combined with the writing style and this is a book you may be able to read in a day.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked this, I was very unsure while reading the first few chapters if this would work for me or not. The tone changed pretty drastically after Reshi leaves the inn and I enjoyed it more once he was off on his adventure. It was fun and fast paced and it wasn’t overly dark. Many of the side characters don’t make it out and that really lent itself to the tension of dangerous moments. When characters are repeatedly saved ‘just in time’ the battle scenes or scenes which are supposed to create an atmosphere of danger lose their umph because you assume everyone is going to be fine.

I’d like to add that this has very high ratings on GR, there are 76 reviews with an average of 4.41 which is really good – many people gave this 5 stars so if you’re into romance I’d check this one out.

Goodreads Link

Amazon Link

Audience:

  • high fantasy
  • lots of different kinds of magic
  • character in hiding
  • romance – LGBT
  • fast paced
  • short – med length
  • easy to like main character

Ratings:

  • Plot: 11/15
  • Characters: 11.5/15
  • World Building: 12/15
  • Writing: 12/15
  • Pacing: 12.5/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10

Final Score: 77.5/100 or 3.87/5 stars on GR

 

 

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