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The Burning Isle by Will Panzo

The Burning Isle by Will Panzo
Book Name: The Burning Isle
Author: Will Panzo
Publisher(s): Ace
Formatt: Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: November 1, 2016 (US) November 3, 2016 (UK)

Slow and steady does win the race, as proven by Will Panzo’s debut novel. Also, bonus points for being a standalone. The Burning Isle delivers with a long-brewing vengeance story. Looking back, there was nothing remarkably unique about the plotline, but not once in its 400-plus pages was I tempted to give up. There are no mythical creatures or spectacular fight scenes, so what was it that made this a winner for me?

We join the story just as Cassius lands on the island of Scipio, a lawless place where society’s rejected survive with little to no oversight. Two crime lords rule the divided island and are in a constant power struggle. They are held in check by an absent but feared general deep in the jungle. Cassius weaves himself into both factions to set his plan for revenge in motion. Along the way, he finds an unexpected ally and friend in a barkeep and joins forces with a criminal who makes a successful living selling stolen goods.

We know only a little about each of the characters other than Cassius. Toward the end, we do find out more about the mysterious general and his part in the plot, but the story is well written enough for me to overlook the lack of character development here.

But bravo on the worldbuilding. There is a true sense of a rich and complex history to this world. I definitely want to go back in, find out more of how things came to be, and see where the future of its people is headed. The magic system is also a wellspring waiting to be tapped. Based on the country or people group, the various powers are apparently indigenous to the natives. I hope any subsequent books in this world will explore this deeper.

The Burning Isle is a finely crafted and well-paced debut. It’s gritty and dark and won’t let you walk away until the very end. Even then, the ending leaves plenty of room for further undertakings in this grim world. I look forward to future endeavors by Will Panzo.


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