The Windorwold Chronicles

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Welcome to Torcia

Review of 'Defiance' by Scifi Author Richard Dee

I’ve always been a huge Fantasy fan, I cut my teeth, so to speak, on Narnia and Lord of the Rings, way back when. I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones, The Sword of Truth series and a few others. I like the mixture of medieval and modern, the magic which lurks and the incredibly detailed world building that an epic struggle requires.

I love the allegory too, the comparison between now and a mythical then. C.S. Lewis did it brilliantly in Narnia, and Tolkien based the destruction of Middle Earth on what he saw as the ravages of a mechanical and industrial society that had lost touch with its pastoral roots. It’s good to read a new fantasy and start to work out what has influenced it.

As we arrive in Torcia, the first thing you notice is the map. Maps are great, every good fantasy should have one. This map is a corker, it’s a pity the version in my copy doesn’t enlarge well. I’ve managed to find a better version online – it’s worth it. It immediately shows you the scale of the place, enables you to see what’s at stake.

We’re straight into the action, and it’s not a pretty start for our characters. Torcia is under attack by a bunch of bloodthirsty invaders. They appear to have magic on their side. And they’re not afraid to use it!

The thing that grabs you is that this is a big world, the author has filled it with all sorts of interesting things. The physical world is well described, as are the amazing powers that exist and there is a cast of truly interesting creatures. Intentions are not always clear, with every new encounter you must wonder, are these good guys or bad? The lead character, Mesham, is complex and the motley crew that assembles around him have the potential to develop into a proper group as the story progresses.

And as for the adversaries they encounter? Well, you need to see just what inhabits this land, it’s certainly not a home from home. Dangers abound, from the plants, animals and other humans – everything, magical or not, seems out to thwart Mesham’s plans to save his land from the invaders.

There’s a logical sequence to everything that goes on, as in every journey, a sense of achievement with every step forward, with the added feeling that just around the corner is a setback. It all adds to the excitement as our band of heroes assemble and prepare to do battle.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, this authors mind is filled with magic, evil creatures, fights, escapes by the skin-of-the-teeth and really, really big explosions. Action leaps from the pages, there’s hardly one that goes by without some sort of heart-stopping excitement as our hero’s quest commences, and the growing band realise just what they’ve let themselves in for. Saving the world is the object of the exercise, it’s a big job – have they got what it takes?

Not content with giving us a great story, at the back of the book there is a glossary of the language and magical terms that the author has used. A nod to Tolkien and Herbert and great fun to read on its own.

There’s potential in its pages for all sorts of backstory. I think that, as well as Mesham’s story, we need to know more about the history of Torcia and how it got to this position.

As for the magical spells, maybe it’s best if you don’t try them at home!

This is the first of a series, I can’t wait for the next one. It’s a big FIVE STARS from me!

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Review by Nick

I read enjoyed this fantasy adventure. This is a well written and nicely structured novel. What lets down so many fantasy books is not enough attention to world building. Not so with this story. Torcia became very much alive for me. The author adds to this strong backbone with some strong characterisation particularly that of Mesham who's special abilities carry the plot well. I would highly recommend this to all fantasy fans.

You won't be disappointed.

Fast-Paced and Magical

An extremely entertaining fantasy novel that has all of the elements you’d expect, including well-detailed battles, magic, and some very evil bad guys. It moves at a fast pace in most sections, which kept me up late because I didn’t want the action to stop!

My favorite character was the warlock, Mesham. Of course, readers are supposed to root for him, but the writer definitely made that easier by giving him some sarcastic lines early on.

I’m invested enough now that i’m definitely interested in reading the next book in the series. If you enjoy fantasy novels with magic, action, and epic travels, this is good choice for your next book. Review by zorak163

The Torcian Chronicles, Book 1: Defiance. Well where to begin!

 This book is not for unintelligent people. It is complex with great depth and incredible story lines that completely suck you into the world the author has created. After a few chapters I found myself unable to put down the book as I had to know what was going to happen next. The story follows Mesham, a super unlucky but lovable warlock as he embarks on a mission to save his magic-shunning country (Torcia) from the evil pro-magic warlocks of Mivir. He meets some intriguing characters along his journey that you will either learn to love or hate. My favourite character was Captain Reoemód, a fearsome and ruthless Amazonian-type woman who is literally the pinnacle of female empowerment. In other words, she is just awesome, and I beg P.J Reed to never kill her off in her fantastic series to come! Alongside the incredible characters that are so beautifully described that you feel like you know them inside out, the action scenes are just magnificent. The author describes them in such a way that you could literally be standing there on the battlefield alongside your favourite characters. The level of detail is highly appreciated, as compared to other fantasy novelists who seem to be afraid of crossing the border to over describing a scene, P.J Reed achieves just the right amount of detail that isn’t so long that it is boring but isn’t so short that you end up being frustrated due to the lack of description. Another area that P.J Reed has undoubtedly succeeded in is the use of an innovative and original magical system, which is hardly seen in today’s magical novel successes! This magical system language is based on what looks to be Anglo-Saxon vocabulary which I have never come across before, as it’s usually seen to be Latin based, so this was a refreshing change. At the back of the book is also a glossary of the spells written by an unknown Potions Master who discusses what the uses of particular spells are. I recommend having a look at this because it really helps with understanding the spells and is actually quite amusing in places too! With a complex world, you need a good quality map, and of course P.J Reed delivers! This is found at the front of the book, and is unique and refreshingly different to other fantasy maps. Overall, this book is incredible, and if you’re a Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones fan this book is ideal for you. I am itching for the sequel, and itching even more for this series to be made into a TV programme or a movie! Come on HBO, Netflix or Peter Jackson, this has got your names written all over it! 10/10. by Sapphy Reed-Yang

Epic battles and head spinning magic! 5* Review

Wow-did I just read that? I asked that repeatedly throughout Torcian Chronicles as page after page caught fire with magic of both the good and dastardly varieties. Once I reached the last page, I was stunned and captivated by a startling finish to a magical story. by Paul DeBlassie III

Review by D. Stanley

This book is exactly what fantasy should be. Lots of fantasy is cliched and predictable, let's be honest, but this book was anything but that.

The first chapter is the perfect opening. It's tense, it's exciting, and the tone of it couldn't be better. The tone is just one example of the quality of writing, but the other is the characterisation. Mesham is a fantastic character -- funny, believable, but flawed too. I wanted him to succeed. Unlike most fantasy heroes, he wasn't protected. He suffered more than anybody throughout and that made him more likeable. In fact, the characters were so consistent that they all felt like real people, even the villains. The Mivirians, while terrifying, didn't feel like the faceless monsters that most fantasy fighters are, which was a refreshing change.

The worldbuilding was good too, and the author obviously knows her stuff. The spells were fascinating and diverse, and the story was full of action to the very last page. It's clear that PJ Reed has been writing for a long time. She's good at it, and this book shows not only this, but how fantasy should be done.

Book Review by Seans Book Reviews

Fantasy is one of my favourite genres and it’s hard to find good piece of fantasy work that is anything new or fresh in that genre.

This book had a great atmosphere that I found was great and that kept me wanting more.

The generation of the world was good as it fulfilled what I always look for. A magic system that isn’t like the majority of others and a strong kingdom and rulers.

The characters themselves were solid creations that help to build the world up. The names are interesting and are not carbon copies of others I have seen before.

Mesham is a character I would have liked to see more from as that character resonated a lot in the book and I think much he has much more to say.

The author writes with such passion for the creation that you just have to delve right in to see just what she has written. Wonder job.

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Review by Katie

 ‘I usually don’t read much fantasy, but I always enjoy the books I have read of this genre in the past. The Torcian Chronicles was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I really enjoyed the read…

Mesham is a warlock however this lands of Torcia are under attack from armies and as he’s a warlock he’s being hunted down. The King offers Mesham a chance to regenerate into a younger self to try and stop these armies from destroying Torcia. He agrees and sets off on what seems like an impossible adventure.

My word, what an adventure that was. The pages are packed full of violence, monsters, and magic. I loved Mesham as a character, he was determined to save his land even when everyone seems to be against him.

The characters Mesham meets along the way are brilliant, there’s some you’ll love and others you’ll hate, either way they are all fabulously written and really add something to the book.’

Review by Katie

A 5* Review

If you are a fan of fast-paced fantasy, you will love the prologue to P.J. Reed's The Torcian Chronicles. The word flow is better than it has any right to be, and I personally loved the character development. Everyone keep their eyes out for her next book; I sure will! By Phoenix Williams

An awesome high fantasy filled with action - 5* Review

If you love high fantasy, the Torcian Chronicles is for you.

Join a Warlock named Mesham, a messenger named Shadral and a powerful knight in their quest to save the land of Torcia. In a land where magic is feared and kept in check by the kingdom of Torcia, Mesham must find a way to save the kingdom from the magic strong land of Mirivan. The Mirivan military, possessed of powerful magic, have destroyed much of Torcia in their insidious raids.

I will not give any spoilers. I will say that this book is filled with high adventure and amazing imagery. You may cringe at the Dwellers and shiver at the undead warriors. This was truly a fun read and I hope to read more soon by James T.

Riveting, Beautifully-Written Fantasy

This is a dazzling, fast-paced fantasy novel that kept me turning the pages. It's full of epic battles, awesome magic, and some truly diabolical antagonists. The writing is amazing and the action is relentless. 

I'm definitely looking forward to reading more work from this author. 
Highly recommended! Review by Brian Bowyer

Brilliant Book!

Brilliant book! Utterly gripping, it was very hard to put the book down. Can't wait for book 2!’ by Samuel M.

Review by Minimac Reviews

It’s been a while since I read a solid, original fantasy that brought together kingdoms, loners, and unlikely heroes but this one certainly did the trick! I loved the premise of the lacklustre son, the exiled captain, and outcast warlock who’s been given a new lease on life having to come together against all odds. Their quest was not only exciting, but necessary, and though the concept of warlocks is not new their magic in this story was unique. In fact, Reed’s world building is complete and encompasses different peoples, places, threats and creatures – not once did I feel that there was a lack of detail. This isn’t one of those fantasies where you feel like you’re reading the same old stuff – it’s new, exciting, and undeniably fun.

I was surprised by Mesham’s loyalty and determination to complete his quest despite his knowledge of the king and the corruption running rampant in the kingdom. After all that he had suffered – the daily persecution, having to wear the arm bands, living in forced poverty, and the constant fear of his powers – I half expected him to break off on his own and have this amazing and epic adventure. But, this definitely made for a waaaay cooler story with lots of tension, drama, and unexpected twists.

I appreciated too, how power always came with a price. Whether this was Captain Sicam being sent into exile for speaking the truth, Mesham being physically and mentally drained after using his magic, the funnelling or trading of faulstan crystals and aweosung power as currency – all of it hammered home the true cost of things. And I loved how things were never perfect! Whether this was Mesham miscasting a spell, Shadral falling prey to self doubt, or the great womanizing Sicam ending up in the larder of demon. The frequent fallibility put this story on a relatable level where so many fantasies seem so perfect as to be unobtainable.

I’m not going to lie, it took me a few chapters to get used to the writing style for this one. Perhaps it’s because I spent so many years having that ‘less is more’ style of technical writing hammered into me that I notice when things are a touch more on the descriptive side. But, after a few chapters, and some pretty hefty advances in the action, I was so sucked in that I barely noticed and was hungry for more. There is a beautiful balance between world building and action, sorcery and sword play, and rarely time to let your mind wander. There is always something new and interesting going on, or little tidbits being revealed about each of the main characters.

Would I recommend this book? Oh, heck yes! It’s fun, exciting, and entirely unexpected. I am excited to see where the Torcian Chronicles will take us next, as I am sure the adventures will be even more intense! This one is sure to appeal to lovers of Tolkien, Lackey, McCaffrey and Zimmer Bradley.

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Review by Harriet Ranger

I thoroughly enjoyed Torcian Chronicles: Defiance! The best fantasy books always develop a world you can fully immerse yourself in and the world of Torcia is one that you can get lost in from page one. 

I am already counting down the days till the sequel!

Review by Hair Past A Freckle

Although I've read a few books in the last few months that fall under the broad SFF banner, this first book in P.J. Reed's The Torcian Chronicles series is the first unashamed fantasy that I've read for some time. I'm happy to say that it did a very good job of reminding me just what I've been missing as this is a cleverly imagined, immersive story that I can already tell has the potential to become a hugely enjoyable, complex series.
As with any first book in an ambitious fantasy series Defiance has a dual role to play - it needs to be an engaging story within its own right while also building a rich and exciting fantasy world. The world building here is done very well; Torcia is a kingdom facing almost certain doom as it is ransacked by the marauding hordes from neighbouring Mivir. The merciliess Mivirian Outriders have been magically enhanced and are no match for any mortal forces. One thing I found particularly refreshing about Defiance is that magic in Torcia isn't venerated or celebrated, instead it's feared and its practitioners are forced to wear clothing bearing a downward coiled snake to worn ordinary citizens to keep their distance. Worse, they have to wear anti-magic wristbands, failure to do so is punishable by death. At the start of the book Mesham is an ancient warlock who lives in a filthy garret and is driven to eat rats to avoid starving to death. However, the Torcian king commands him to undergo a dangerous rejuvenation spell before ordering him to embark on a foolhardy mission into Mivir to trigger a civil war there, thus saving Torcia.
Mesham is joined on his quest by two vulgarie (non-magical citizens). The relationship between the three is one of the highlights of the book as suspicion and mistrust becomes at first an uneasy alliance and later approaches friendship. The truths the group learn about themselves lead them to question their beliefs and recall past events with some guilt. Although very much an action driven plot, the character development of the three main protagonists is well handled and bodes well for the rest of the series. Mesham, in particular is a fascinating warlock, his failings and self doubt contrasting sharply with his undoubted ambition now he has been given a second chance in life. He has a fierce loyalty to his country despite being treated so appallingly by his homeland and is prepared to fight to the death to save it.
The companions find themselves in one deadly situation after another and the drama is fast-paced and packed with twists and turns. The three men cheat death several times as the action races towards the gripping climax of the novel. It's a book that demands full attention from its readers, there is so much double crossing going on here that it can be hard to keep track on the various alliances, it means though that Defiance is a thrilling read and it also lays some interesting groundwork for future interactions. Naturally not everything is resolved here, it will be necessary to read the rest of the series to learn the eventual fate of Mesham, his friends and Torcia itself. This richly descriptive, exciting and imaginative book is a superb start to The Torcian Chronicles and I'm eagerly looking forward to discovering what comes next.

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