Shami Stoval’s Knightmare Arcanist – Book Spotlight

Welcome back, Readers! I hope your holiday wishlist was well received and you got the gift of good books! Heck, maybe you GAVE the gift of good books! Both are just great by me.

So, I have a really great one for you to start the new year off right. I like a lot of books, love a smaller but still significant number. Normal book-lover stuff. Then, there are books which I love so much I consume them way too fast, realize I’m done, hit a point of existential crisis and impulse buy the rest of the series just so I can have that uplifting feeling of “It’s okay. I have more.”

The Frith Chronicles is a series of that sort for me.

You know from many of my other Spotlights and my Pokemon related articles for this site that I’m a fanatic for Monster Taming stuff. In terms of books I’ve looked at Djinn Tamer and Monster Hunt NYC and honestly? Even though it’s technically super hero fiction… I’m inclined to include Fluff here because Teddy, Athena and the rest are summons, one of which has an animal form. The difference here is that these aforementioned series are GameLit or LitRPG style books whereas Knightmare Arcanist is not. No stats, no tables, no meta-narrative bestiary entries or fourth wall breaking systems to speak of here. This is straight up fantasy. The Facebook ad that suggested it to me said it was a cross between Pokemon and Harry Potter but I’d be more inclined to say (And I’m about to out myself as a weeb here.) it combines elements of Pokemon, Black Clover and One Piece. Fantastic, tameable creatures, magic and an underdog with difficulty wielding it, swashbucklers and pirates.

In short, it has all the elements I crave.

So, grab yourself some provisions, read up on your Eldrin lore and let’s join Volke and Illia as they embark on their journey to become Arcanists!

Book Stats

    Author: Shami Stovall.
    Formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle and Audible.
    Price: $14.99 for Paperback, $22.99 for Hardcover, $4.99 for Kindle and $21.99 for the Audiobook, or one Credit on Audible.
    Length: 339 pages or 10 hours 19 minutes in audio format.
    Narrator: Brian Wiggins
    Number of books in the series: 8! It’s a finished series, too, but the author is very prolific and has other works set in the same world.

Basic Premise

Volke is a grave digger by trade and that’s unfortunate for him. See, the rules of the isle of Ruma’s mystical creature bonding ceremony state explicitly that those who handle sewage, waste or dead bodies aren’t permitted to take part. Ruma spawns phoenixes and they bond with newly minted arcanists at the top of a sheer stone pillar, 112 steps high. Only two were born this year and the schoolmaster, Tyms, had already picked the two best and brightest pupils to bond with them.

Still. Volke just can’t let the day go by without shooting his shot. One thing about bonding day is that, no matter what rules may be put in place, it is the phoenixes themselves that decide a potential arcanist’s worth. If he can impress them enough… who knows?

It doesn’t shake out that way, obviously. The book isn’t called Phoenix Arcanist, after all.

Despite this hiccup, Volke’s determination doesn’t waver. When Illia, his adopted sister, tells him about a boat containing 3 rare mystical creatures having crashed in a swamp nearby, he can’t help but grab up some supplies and set out with her. She actually meets one of them first (My favorite character so far and as such I’m going to avoid spoilers so you can meet him for the first time like I did.) while Volke is rejected by the second; slimy, swelled lump of swamp muck. The third is a powerful, majestic white hart that proceeds to attack Volke and his companion with strength, magic and madness. Volke, with no magical powers of his own, must protect the younger boy, potentially with his life.

A rocky start to Volke’s adventure, sure. But where does it end up? You’re going to need to read it to find out!

My Take

Volke is a good hero. Let’s just get that out there on the table. He’s generally kind, despite having an awful start in life. He works hard to show that you can overcome any negatives in your heritage or upbringing so long as you possess a strong character. He’s funny, friendly and at the same time, he IS an adolescent boy with many of the shortfalls we were all guilty of at his age. I enjoyed him a lot as our ‘In’ to the world we’re being presented with.

The other characters are likewise good, though much less fleshed out. I really like Illia. Very much like Volke, she has a lot to deal with in her past and is doing her best with what she’s been given. There are others I didn’t mention in the Basic Synopsis section just because we get to know them less, though, I should have spared a mention for Zaxis. He’s the primary rival to Volke and their chemistry is pretty great!

But of course, you want to know about the mythical creatures. Phoenixes are the first we meet, but by no means take up the majority of the page. Luthair is a Knightmare and Volke’s eldrin. His species is born upon the untimely death of a king, queen, prince, duke… someone of noble blood with unfinished business. He takes the form of an empty suit of armor made of hardened shadow with a long, flowing cape and a big shadowy sword. He’s pretty cool, obviously. We meet hydras, leviathans, what amounts to a world turtle, a cat like creature that’s actually a mimic. If you’re a monster nerd like me? You’re going to eat this up.

Our nasrrator for the Audible version is Brian Wiggins and he does a fantastic job keeping everyone’s voices distinct and impactful. He also does some great accents and keeps the monsters sounding monster-ish for the most part. His laugh for some of the more disturbed creatures is a spine chiller, honestly – he could give Mark Hamill’s Joker a run for his money any day in that regard.

As already mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m loving the world Volke and the rest inhabit. A highly recommended read from me.

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