Like most people who frequent the pages of Fantasy-Faction, I read a lot. I have many favourite authors who have released several books or even several series. Being a writer myself, I have also started to delve into independent authors work. One such author is C. L. Schneider, who approached me and suggested I try their dark fantasy series, The Crown of Stones. I bought the first book in the series, Magic-Price, in an Amazon sale and decided to share my thoughts with you fine readers.

Magic-Price follows the exploits of Ian Troy, a soldier in servitude to humans and forced to fight in their wars. He is a member of the Shinree, an ancient people who once ruled the world but whose society fell due to their crippling addiction to magic. They are now bred as slaves using selective breeding to create specialists in certain tasks. During a pivotal battle, Ian discovers the crown of stones, a powerful and ancient magical artifact that turns the tide of the engagement and ends the war. Despite snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, Ian is reviled for his magical atrocities and shunned by the very people he saved. Ian vows to never use magic again for fear of hurting others.

Magic-Price pulled me in right away with its interesting premise. I love my fantasy stories and the idea of magic being an addictive force, whilst not original, was used to great effect within this story and world. Ian Troy struggled with his addiction throughout the entire narrative on top of his guilt at his past actions. Ian really wants to make a difference but is afraid of what power he can wield.

Another interesting concept I found enjoyable was that of how casting magic works within this world. Magic is channeled to cast spells, but in order to fuel the casting, the wielder draws life force from surrounding organic life. Plants, animals and other beings are all drained of life to fuel the spells. The more powerful the spell, the more life force is required. This mechanic adds a very interesting layer of depth to the action of casting and acts as a great way to prevent magic being the typical deus ex machina of fantasy stories.

I won’t go into spoilers here but the book moves along at a great pace, delivering excellent action scenes, tense encounters and even some laughs. The narrative is quite dark with some graphic descriptions of fighting and sexual content, this is not a fantasy novel for the feint hearted. It’s not quite Prince of Thorns, but it’s not Lord of the Rings either.

The characters are fantastically written with each having their own motivations and hidden agendas. I struggled to second guess the actions of the main characters and was left surprised on several occasions. The adventure they embark upon feels epic but also quite personal. The climactic finale was satisfying and left me eager for more. As soon as I had finished Magic-Price I went online and bought the second book in preparation.

There is one thing I would criticise about the book that feels weird for me to mention as a negative, and that is the worldbuilding. Now hear me out, I am used to worldbuilding in fantasy series, and having to read the odd page or twelve of exposition. Magic-Price doesn’t do this, however, it very much attempts to adhere to the rule of, “show don’t tell.” This is commendable and should work in theory. That being said, I felt like there was so much information to learn early on in this book that I found the delivery too confusing and difficult to absorb.

It sounds mad, but I would have actually liked a few pages of exposition here from the narrator’s perspective just so I could get a handle on who was part of which kingdom and which ones were at war and who was involved etc. There are a lot of characters and kingdoms and locations to learn and at first I struggled with working out who was from where. I am happy to report that by the end of the book I did have a clear understanding of who was from what place and what their allegiances were, but it did take some time.

Magic-Price is a fantastic read all things considered. It’s a refreshing take on the fantasy hero’s journey, with some interesting twists and turns and an overall darker tone, yet still it manages to deliver some truly funny moments. Now I have heard comparisons made between Ian Troy and Geralt of Rivia. As someone who has read both Magic-Price and The Witcher novels, as well as working on The Witcher video games, I can say that the similarities are minimal and mostly cosmetic. The characters are different and both have their strengths and weaknesses.

If you like dark fantasy with a twist and you want to support a truly talented independent author, then do yourself a favour and pick up Magic-Price. It’s only going to cost you a couple of dollars and I can assure you that there is lots to be enjoyed within this novel.


By Stephen Rhodes

Stephen is a small town boy from Blackpool in the North West of England. His primary function is being a script writer in the video games industry, working on numerous Triple A and indie titles alike. His secondary functions include fiction writing, Dungeon Mastering, reading everything, and playing games. You can see more of his ramblings on Twitter at @Rhodes_Writes or check out his website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.