Shami Stovall’s Dread Pirate Arcanist – Indie Book Spotlight

Hey there, Readers! Welcome to March! As the seasons change I hope you’re still finding time to decompress and enjoy a good book!

And I do have a good one for you, this time. It’s the second book in the Frith Chronicles. We did just Spotlight one of these very recently. Normally I wait a few months between entries in a series but I had a huge amount of fun with book 2 and wanted to talk about it! Simple as that. This is a series featuring pirates (If the book title didn’t make that obvious!) magical creatures and adventure! What’s not to love?

Of course, spoilers for the prior book in the series lie ahead! Definitely snag and enjoy the first one before getting into the second or this Spotlight.

So, grab your occult compass and let’s strike out in search of rare mystical creatures and adventure!

Book Stats

Basic Premise

Volke Savan is a member of the Frith Guild; a literally legendary guild of arcanists who are known for helping those who need it. In the last book Volke, along with 5 other young adults, wound up joining. 6 apprentice arcanists at one time is something almost unheard of – arcanists themselves are rare enough. People who can bond with mystical creatures are few and far between but once they do bond, they become powerful magic users. Volke and his fellow apprentices, along with their master arcanist, Zelfree, are being asked to safeguard an Island which produces Gryphons. The bonding ceremony is about to take place and the two Gryphon cubs are about to be paired with promising young people!

Or… they would. But one of the cubs is missing. Training is suspended as the Frith Guild is called to action!

As it turns out, the Cub has been injured and is being held in a cave along with two of the village children. They are stuck there at the whim of a plague addled mystical creature. The arcane plague can infect anyone who has magical ability (Arcanists.) and mystical creatures themselves. It makes people change over months to become bloodthirsty and beyond reason. Mystical creatures, though, change within hours. They seek to infect or kill other mystical creatures and force bonds with people, thereby infecting them too. It’s a scourse…. but this particular creature has only recently been infected.

Volke, unfortunately, has to take care of it before more people or cubs are harmed.

But how did the plague make it to this island?

Turns out it may be due to the master manticore arcanist, Dread Pirate Callisto – Volke has history with him. Or, more accurately, Volke’s adopted sister Illia does. Callisto was the Pirate who cut out her eye and left her scarred for life. Illia, of course, wants her revenge and Volke might just have to oblige…

Can our crew of amateur arcanists pursue and punish this craven corsair? And is there something even bigger at stake? You’ll have to read it to find out!

My Take

So, much like the first entry in the series, I loved this story. The world we were introduced to in Knightmare Arcanist becomes much wider in this outing. We’re introduced to many more creatures and locations and all of them are interesting and fun. And the lore! We learn of some god-tier mystical beasts out there in the world! Mythical creatures from all kind of backgrounds are pulled into this world and it’s always surprising to see what kinds of creatures will show up next in the story.

The pacing is fluid and quick without being too fast or overwhelming. Characters are enjoyable and relatable just as they were in the first book and in fact, Illia is given a much greater amount of depth and agency which is great. So is Zaxis, actually. He becomes a lot more likable, which surprised me greatly. I think Volke and Zaxis have the chemistry to become a fantastic team if they’d just stop stepping on one another’s toes.

Our narrator, Brian Wiggins, does another great job! He has a fantastic range of accents and tones that define each character well and especially when he does the voices of plague addled critters, it’s a spine tingling affair. He’s definitely becoming one of my favorite narrators.

In short, I can’t recommend this series enough!

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