I received copies for review from the author. This does not affect my oninion in any way.
Title: The Crown of Stones: Magic Price
Author: C.L. Schneider
Publication Date: Dec 9, 2016
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.
Title: The Crown of Stones: Magic Scars
Author: C.L. Schneider
Publication Date: Dec 29, 2014
They took it all: his will, his memories, his freedom, his magic.
Imprisoned by his enemies, tortured and drugged to keep his magic suppressed, Ian Troy returns to a world as marred and broken as he is. Ravaged by the reign of her new High King, Draken of Langor, Mirra’kelan’s citizens live in fear. The Shinree, misled by Jem Reth’s promises, are no longer slaves, but they are far from free. Thrust together by necessity, refugees from all realms have banded together and formed alliances never before thought possible. They share a common goal: freedom from oppression. And a common, fragile hope: Ian Troy.
But as Ian struggles to put the pieces of his life back together, he finds he is not the same man as before. Afflicted by an unsettling, personal transformation, he strives to discover the truth behind his connection to The Crown of Stones. He searches for answers among the ruins of the past and uncovers ancient secrets that may have altered the course of his entire race.
The Price of Ian’s magic and his addiction have never been higher.
Title: The Crown of Stones: Magic Borne
Author: C.L. Schneider
Publication Date: Feb 17, 2016
He’s paid for his addiction. He’s been scarred by his spells.
He’s borne magic’s weight, its pleasure, and its guilt.
But will he surrender to it when the realm needs him most?
In one fell swoop, the resistance was shattered. Lives were taken. Hope was lost. Peace slipped like grains of sand through his fingers. So did the Crown of Stones. Now, forced into hiding, Ian Troy grapples for a way to save the realm—and free its people—from the sadistic clutches of Jem Reth; Mirra’kelan’s new self-appointed emperor. Plagued with the knowledge of a tragic future, he strives to influence events and save those he cares for. But his magic has betrayed him, and Fate has other plans.
Marked by the crown, hindered by the transformation spell contained within, each cast brings Ian one step closer to becoming more beast than man. Each move brings the death and destruction foretold in his vision inexplicably nearer. With Langor on the brink of war, and King Malaq’s plan for peace hanging in the balance, Ian returns to the ancient past; seeking an end to the eldring spell and a means to thwart Jem’s growing domination. What he finds there sets off a chain of revelations that leads Ian places he never thought to go.
Entrusted with the future of his race, Ian becomes the linchpin for lasting change. But how much weight can one man carry? And how much is he willing to sacrifice in the name of peace?
Sometimes, you just know you’re going to fall in love with a book or series and I’m happy to say I was right on the money with this one!
Told from the POV of Ian, a Shinree soldier, the book opens with a battle in the war that has been going on for a very long time with both sides taking heavy casualties. As a Shinree, Ian has other gifts apart from this skills with the sword, the ability to channel magic. This ability is a double-edged sword because casting comes with its set of dangers both to the wielder and those in range. It is highly addictive and deadly; it sucks the life out of living things to sustain the casting and each time a Shinree casts, the temptation to do so grows even stronger.
Ian badly wants to help his Queen and Consort in this battle and is seriously intent on disobeying her direct orders. His choice is soon made for him when the Crown of Stones is revealed to him by circumstances which appear to be coincidental. He can immediately sense the power within the stones and uses it to cast with devastating effect. So begins this awesome tale of a flawed character wanting to do right but who is manipulated time and again into doing that which he had sworn never to do after that devastating day; cast magic. But is he prepared to pay the price?
Ian as a character has most of the traits which makes him my favourite protagonist. He is far from perfect and his flaws makes him all the more likeable and relatable. He tries to learn from his mistakes and even works with others, putting aside personal prejudices, to achieve a common goal which benefits the greater good, recognising that even with his ability to channel magic, he is far from omnipotent.
The cast of characters are varied but still easy to keep track of . They are also well-developed. Each nation/race of people are easily distinguished from one another and their motivations are revealed through the artful integration of their various histories and backgrounds into the story without feeling like your being taught a history lesson. There is sometimes a poetic flow to the prose but thankfully this does not dominate because as much as I like poetic prose, it can be overused. This was thankfully not the case here.
The plot is far from simple. There are sub-plots and twists and turns which caught me by surprise. There is no room for boredom as there is simply too much intrigue, action romance and humour which engages the reader. I had to force myself to take small ‘sips’ so I could savour every nuance, every tidbit of information and ruminate, instead of gulping it all down as I was so tempted to do.
The Crown of Stones: Magic Price has everything going for it: great world-building, well-drawn characterisation. diversity and sheer awe-inspiring imagination and a creative magic system the likes of which is only to be found in the best fantasy novels. With a world filled with multi-faceted , flawed and memorable characters, Magic Price is a worthy start to what I’m sure is an incredibly immersive epic fantasy series.
Well, if I thought Ian was broken before, if I thought he had worked his way into my heart with his stubborn will to live against all odds, in Magic Scars, the author shows us an ever more damaged Ian, physically and psychologically. My heart was aching so much for him
What I loved about this second books is that it doesn’t suffer from ‘second book syndrome’ where hardly anything of importance happens. Au contraire, Ian is broken, remade, reforged into a yet stronger version of himself. He suffers great losses but this does not cripple him but acts as a catalyst to propel him and give him the strength to stand up and fight even when if feels like he can’t anymore.
There are so many revelations in this sequel and so many reasons to be worried for Ina but also many reasons to be proud. Magic comes easier to him now die to an unexpected by-product of trying to retrieve the Crown of Stone, but as is known by now, Magic has a steep price and this time Ian is not even sure how much of a price he is paying, both physically and mentally.
Ian does it all like a boss! The suffering he undergoes only makes him more determined, yet instead of hardening him to the point where he becomes an emotionless killing machine, it tempers him to so that he is more in touch with his empathy for others than ever before.
I loved seeing the different ways i which Shinree magic coud be used. What can I say? I’m a sucker for magic systems and this is one of the coolest i’ve come across and just reinforces my love and appreciation for fantasy. Magic Scars was an impressive follow-up which left me salivating yet filled with angst for the third and final book. It was an emotional roller-coaster and I loved every torturous second of it.
This ending to a trilogy tied up loose ends nicely but still left room for more adventures with Ian which I hope will soon be written. It also left me with a book hangover which I’m still feeling the effects of up to this moment.
Ian is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in Magic Borne. He is ready to do any unpleasant or difficult magical test which will aid him in putting an end to all the fighting and hopefully avert the destruction he has foreseen. Will he be strong enough?
Ian and the other characters have grown in leaps and bounds over the course of the three books and I am pleased with their development. There are so many layers to the characters to be uncovered that they feel real and relatable. My opinion of them naturally fluctuate between liking hem and agreeing with their actions to finding them disagreeable and questioning their common sense, which just emphasises their humanity; riddled with flaws and lack of good judgement.
The plot is, as per usual, intricate, fast-paced and angsty and I had all my thirst for action and resolutions filled. In this the end of the Trilogy, I was totally engaged and invested because I was so scared for Ian and the fate of Mirra’kelen. It was filled with nail-biting intrigue and suspense, heartbreaking moments. and crazy situations which had me literally screaming ad Ian and his dad, crying in fear and just totally immersed within the story, eager yet scared of seeing it to the end. At the end of it all, I was an emotional wreck.
What I admire most about this series, is its characters and intricacy. As much as I wanted to devour it in one go, I had no choice but to take small ‘sips’ to understand and appreciate and eventually be in awe of the author’s creativity in building this world of Mirra’Kelen and its races. I am especially intrigued by the Shinree as a people.
Once you start reading the books, you realise just how fitting the titles are and how they are bound in the overall story arc. The complexity of the characters parallel that of the story and both are done masterfully. with care and great attention to detail. The Crown of Stones trilogy is captivating, immersive and fast-paced. It will draw you in, encase yu within its complex world filled with well-drawn, multifaceted characters and its themes of the fighting for the greater good and the boundaries which keep heroes from becoming as cruel as those they fight against. It will render you and emotional wreck, leaving you with a serious book hangover, the likes of which is unequaled.
Be prepared to fall in love with it all!
About The Author
Magic-Price, the first book in The Crown of Stones trilogy, was my first published novel. With the release of Magic-Borne, the trilogy is complete. Next up: an urban fantasy featuring shapeshifters, parallel worlds, dragons, serial murder, and spontaneous human combustion.
My stories tend to run in the realm of dark, adult, and epic. If I wrote about vampires, they most definitely would not sparkle.
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