When the information for this tour went out, I realized that the cover of The Written looked really familiar to me. Then when I went to add it to my Goodreads, I realized that I had already added it to my TBR, so I was even more excited to read and review this book for this blog tour!
A spellbook has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell – a very old and extremely powerful spellbook from the time of dark elves and demons. Five scholars are dead, the magick council is running out of time and options, and the Arka is once again on the brink of war with the Siren dragon-riders.
It falls to Farden the Written mage to keep the world from falling into chaos. Entangled in a web of lies and politics, Farden must recover the spellbook before an ancient enemy rises, even if it takes journeying halfway across icy Emaneska and back.
In his fight for answers, Farden will unearth a secret that not only shakes the foundations of his world, but threaten the entire future of Emaneska. Sorcery, death, drugs and the deepest of betrayals await.
Welcome to Emaneska.
This is Ben Galley’s debut novel, and while you can tell he really wanted to tackle a lot of different fantasy elements, I think it was done really well for a debut! There were werewolves, vamyres, dragons, elves, mages, prophecies, and a giant world! As a huge lover of fantasy, I loved the different magics that were included, and the idea of the Written was something that I don’t think I’ve come across yet as a magic system. The Written are powerful mages that have a spellbook of sorts inked into their back, and if others attempt to read the text they go mad.
I also really loved the world of Emaneska and how it is divided between men and dragons. The two factions have been at war before the events of this book take place, and they have an uneasy truce when the book opens. The world of men is split into different kingdoms, but the one that we see the most is the Arka which is a magical academy/kingdom where mages are trained and the Written are created. They are one of the most powerful nations because of the strength of their mages.
Then we also have the kingdom where the dragons live in the icy north with their riders who are called Sirens. They aren’t the typical fantasy sirens though, they are more elf-like and have patches of scales that grow on their bodies from their long exposure to their dragons. The dragons in this world are honestly incredible and I loved them so much! Each race has a different form of magic that they can practice, which I think really works for a story like this one where there are so many races to help diversify them.
I also immensely enjoyed the main character Farden. He was extremely powerful, but not to the point where everything was easy for him. He still made mistakes and struggled with overcoming his demons, which made it fun to read about him! The relationship that he has with his friends was also really interesting, especially once you get to the end of the book and learn more about those relationships. I liked how if Farden was confused about something and didn’t understand it, you were in the same boat. So instead of the reader having information that the main character had, we learned about everything as Farden did.
There is also a mystery aspect to this book, as there is this quest to figure out who stole a very important and dangerous artifact from some scholars, and I was honestly surprised at who the culprit was! I thought I had it all figured out and what their motives were, but I was actually really far off.
There is just so much to unpack with this novel and I am truly excited to see where this story goes, especially since I chose Galley’s debut book for this tour so I can only imagine things get even better from here!
Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new Chasing Graves Trilogy.