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The Burning Isle Paperback – November 1, 2016
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“An engaging, fast-paced and sharply plotted novel. I loved seeing Cassius develop throughout the book and I can’t what to see what happens to him next. A great debut.”—James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost
“A solid, entertaining first book, soaked in grime and blood that details a tale steeped in magic, mysticism and dark intrigue…A wild read like a kinetic cinematic experience that will leave your heart thrumming for more.” —Smorgasbord Fantasia
“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.” —Fantasy Faction
“One of the better vengeance stories I have read in years.” —The Quill to Live
About the Author
After working in publishing and as an editor for Marvel Comics, Will Panzo found his true calling as a physician assistant for an emergency department. The Burning Isle is his first novel. He lives and works in New York City.
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But sometimes I read a book and realize I enjoyed it so much that whatever I can do to help it out I should do it.
So, here it is. A lot of times I read a review looking for authors I like and that seals the deal. So... If you like Joe Abercrombie or anyone else that writes high quality "grimdark" fantasy then look no further because you will enjoy this.
It is violent, reeeeeally violent. It is dark, reeeeeally dark. The protagonist, if he can be called that, is a completely broken man and you would be too if you went through what he went through and knows what he knows.
And that is all I am going to say, if you are looking for a good, dark fantasy then get it.
For me the magic was a little too heavily used, but a lot of fantasy fans prefer it that way. I did kinda like the system behind the magic, but personally I thought the duels between the "killers" or magic users, their use of magic gauntlets, and the spells themselves were rather corny.
I did dig the ending. It kinda left a mystery to be solved and I like that. I'm fairly certain the clues are there for the clever reader to figure it out, but I'm either not clever enough or just too lazy to bother.
Overall I did enjoy it, and I'll be keeping an eye out for what Mr. Panzo does next. However, I do think I'd liked The Burning Isle better if had been done as a gun-powder fantasy or as steampunk.
That might seem like an odd combination, but author Will Panzo, while wearing his myriad influences proudly on his sleeve, manages to take these disparate pieces and mold them into something new, compelling and impossible to put down.
While grimdark fantasy is an extremely popular flavor in 2016, what separates Panzo from his contemporaries is an ability to use the trappings of that particular subgenre to really dig into the conflicting and conflicted emotions of his protagonist, the sorcerer Cassius. Like the title character of Yojimbo, Cassius finds himself caught between two rival gangs, but through impeccable planning and a cold, vicious streak, he works to play both sides against another, all while keeping his true objective hidden, not just from his foes, but even from the reader.
It's far too easy and even more common for fantasy writers to get caught up in the tropes and unique idioms of their chosen genre, and, as a result, their work ends up collapsing in on itself under the weight of countless references and extraneous information doled out under the auspices of "worldbuilding." What makes Panzo a unique, exciting talent, however, is his ability and willingness to craft a tale that while feeling true to its world, is also universal in its appeal.
I'm wary of saying anything else about the book, as the less you know about it going in, the more you'll be surprised by its twists, turns and reveals. Suffice to say this, however: I cannot recommend The Burning Isle enough, and I'm already eagerly awaiting Panzo's next work.
Most recent customer reviews
I'll be waiting for more releases from Mr. Panzo
Like someone has already mentioned, if you like dark fantasy, this is your book.