Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

REVIEW - Reign & Ruin (Mages of the Wheel #1) by J.D. Evans

“All magic is beautiful,” she said, “and terrible. Do you not see the beauty in yours, or the terror in mine? You can stop a heart, and I can stop your breath.”


I was always curious about how the readers interpret a too much enthusiastic positive review. Should I start with a “wow” or a “wonderful”? It will be more convincing that Reign & Ruin deserves your attention? Maybe, but I am not that kind of person. Plus, I think that, within certain limits, there’s no accounting for tastes. Therefore, instead of starting with a (sincere) WOW, I will tell you several things that I liked.

Fantasy – The characteristic of the fantasy genre are all present. They are manipulated in a way in which you will not be tented to compare Reign & Ruin with other stories or, if you do, to see that Reign & Ruin is a winner.

Story – The author masterly succeeded a nice balance between the components of the story: romance, women position within political intrigues, adding even small but nicely done action parts.
The impossible love is a well-used theme, but J.D. (I hope it is not a breach of the etiquette to use your first name… initials 😃, as Naime feared) brought freshness and a layered passion in her love story. Even the more explicit scenes are better and more passionate than many other consecrated authors and they could be considered as being “useful” for the story (I think I’m saying this for the first time).

Women’s position in the social and political context could very easily fall into an empty, harmful political correctness and wrong understanding of feminism. Fortunately, it is not the case. At the very end, there is a kind of “deus ex machina” which I would have not introduced as I consider that it reduces the heroine's success, but I could see its scope in the author’s view.

A very important aspect, greatly appreciated by me, is that J.D. does not tell us but shows us everything she wanted to tell, even when it is under a dialogue form. By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogues; they are witty, they are funny or serious, they are realistic and well-conducted. The intellectual and physical aspects play together without trying to conquer the other.

Characters – Main or supporting, I did not find someone or something to not like. Everything is substantiated, supported by what it was, is or is expected to be. Good or bad, the characters evolve, revealing their true selves in the right moment within plotting evolution. I could say that many of you could discover a new “book-boyfriend”, but you will not have the courage to claim him seeing how great “they” are together.

Setting – Inspired by the J.D. experience in Lebanon, the setting is construed in Arabic notes. Having in view the common points of the Islamic world and due to my national history regarding the Ottoman Empire, in addition to the pleasure of discovering a beautiful story, I had the pleasure of trying to identify the elements and notions that J.D. used (sometimes from the French influence) in what I knew it was. Doing that I could also see better that, J.D. used the social, cultural, political, and military features for the story but did not suffocate the story with them. The necessity of establishing the proper context had reduced a little bit the pace in the first pages, but this “issue” was solved quickly.

So, if you want to discover and enjoy a new author and her story, come and navigate the Courts machinations for power and titles together with the Sultana and her Agassi.

Read it! You’ll enjoy it!

I am balanced for I am broken
Parts that make a whole
Each joy and sorrow token
Paid to mold my soul
For we are nothing
And we are all
The darkness that is rising
And the light that cannot fall.


“All magic is beautiful,” she said, “and terrible. Do you not see the beauty in yours, or the terror in mine? You can stop a heart, and I can stop your breath.” 

She is heir to a Sultanate that once ruled the world. He is an unwanted prince with the power to destroy. 

She is order and intellect, a woman fit to rule in a man's place. He is chaos and violence and will stop at nothing to protect his people. 

His magic answers hers with shadow for light. They need each other, but the cost of balance may be too high a price. Magic is dying and the only way to save it is to enlist mages who wield the forbidden power of death, mages cast out centuries ago in a brutal and bloody war. 

Now, a new war is coming. Science and machines to replace magic and old religion. 

They must find a way to save their people from annihilation and balance the sacred Wheel—but first, they will have to balance their own forbidden passion. His peace for her tempest, his restlessness for her calm… 

Night and day, dusk and dawn, the end, and the beginning. 

About the author: 
J.D. Evans writes science fiction and fantasy romance and is the author of the novel, Reign & Ruin. After earning her degree in linguistics, J.D. served a decade as an army officer. She once spent her hours putting together briefings for helicopter pilots and generals. Now she writes stories, tends to a tiny human, knits, sews badly, gardens, and cultivates Pinterest Fails. After a stint in Beirut, J.D. fell in love with the Levant, which inspired the setting for her debut series, Mages of the Wheel. 

J.D. currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, though she will always be a Montana girl at heart. 

Enter J.D. Evan’s Giveaway! 


clairisa23 said...

Looking forward to reading the book!

Shelby p said...

Great review!

CCAM said...

Thank you :)