The Crown of Stones: Magic Price by C.L. Schneider (book 1)
Blurb – Ian Troy is one of the Shinree, a fallen people with an inherent addiction to magic. Scorned and reviled for the deadly side of their spells, the Shinree are bred as slaves. Their magic is suppressed by drugs and used only as it serves the purposes of the other races. Descended from a long line of soldiers, Ian is conscripted into the Rellan army and made to fight in their longstanding conflict against the ruthless Langorian invaders. The downfall of Rella imminent, Ian goes against orders and turns to the Crown of Stones, an ancient Shinree relic of untold power. Ignorant of its true purpose, Ian uses the crown to end the war, and pays a terrible price. A decade later, still tortured by the aftermath of that day, Ian lives as a bounty hunter in self-imposed exile. Having renounced his magical heritage, he curbs his obsession with a steady stream of wine and regret. He struggles to put it all behind him, until a fateful encounter with a pretty assassin brings Ian’s past crashing into the present. Targeted by a rogue Shinree, and a ruthless old enemy, Ian is forced to use magic again. His deadly addiction is rekindled and his life of isolation is brought to a swift end. With the land he gave up everything to protect once more in jeopardy, and his people’s future at stake, Ian becomes embroiled in a violent race for control of the Crown of Stones. To save the realms and those he cares for, Ian must embrace the thing he fears most: his own power.
First Impressions – I loved the cover and the premise of this book. The concept of having a price to pay for wielding magic is a big part of why I bought this book. From the very beginning you get to understand that price and why the main character Ian Troy tries to resist using his power.
Magic – I really liked all the new and inventive magic the author has created in this book. I like the Shinree race and how there are different bloodlines within it that can perform different types of magic. I think my favourites were the dream weaves, which caused havoc with the main characters mental state, and the binding spells which could bring someone back from the brink of death, but have other consequences for those involved.
Characters – First off Ian Troy is not a very ‘fantasy’ name. But he is likeable for a mass murderer and I was rooting for him all the way. He is stubborn and makes the wrong choices at times, but don’t we all.
Didn’t like so much – There seemed to a few too many info dumps in the form of arguments between various characters. At points it felt like these exchanges were for the readers benefit. But there is a lot of history needing to be explained and times when this type of info gathering is needed for Ian Troy to understand the past events as much as the reader.
Sometimes I got lost when new chapters started and it wasn’t a smooth transition from the previous one. Normally it was just cutting the unnecessary description of an uneventful journey. It’s a small gripe, and resolved quickly as you read on.
Final thoughts – A really fresh and gripping fantasy read. I don’t see many fantasy books with this amount of swearing in, but it felt right for the story and the character, not just put in for shock value. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books (which I’ve already bought).
Finally, there are some erotic/x-rated moments in the book. I’d often find myself thinking this is a woman writing it and feeling a little shocked (not that I’m a prude or anything).
Recommend to – Fantasy lovers who like their stories a little on the darker side.
Rating – 5/5 stars
Each book is a bargain at 99p, but I think that offer is running out today, so you best be quick!