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I received a free ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have provided below.

Auspicious young author Troy Knowlton has penned a very fast-paced and highly entertaining YA fantasy read, filled with tons of adventure, humour, and romance, entitled “Seekers: The Winds of Change”!

Knowlton’s book takes us to the Argan Empire: a place of beauty, wonder, yet also immense danger. There is also considerable wealth and gain to be found, for those bold enough to seek it. When things are at their bleakest, the mission is fraught with peril, but there’s intrinsically valuable booty to be found, that’s when the extraordinary talents of the Seekers are required.

An attempt is made on the life of Lunaris, Sovereign of Wisdom, in the city of Arga, at the Imperial Archive, where priceless artifacts collected by the Seekers are stored. This politically motivated assassination is circumvented by the clever and daring intervention of novice seekers Tyras and Oren.

But the failed attempt stirs great unrest, and the assassin gets away. Subterfuge and intrigue are obviously afoot. As a result, war looms in Tiarna, another continent. These events propel our two fledgling Seekers, to do what they do best: uncover who is behind the plot to kill Lunaris, uncover the broader conspiracy linked to that plot, and conjointly recover “The Conduit”, another precious relic, for the Empire.

But there are hidden, powerful, and sinister forces conspiring to take down the Seekers before they can accomplish their missions.

The reader will be in for a fun romp with the characters in this book! There is lots of camaraderie, ridiculously silly banter, heart-warming bonding, (often the campfire-side chat variety) plenty of mooning teenage angst and pining between the lovestruck Tyras and Serena (as can be expected in the YA genre), and some real outrageous laugh-out-loud comedic highlights, even amongst all the exhilarating action sequences while our characters fight for their lives. Tyras, Oren, Serena, Squall, Yeta, Aries, and Leo are all very well-drawn characters.

If I was pressed to select a fav, it’d probably be Squall. I have a fondness for the sage mentor-type players in these sorts of books, and Squall is amazing! Ameel is also a standout, and she stole the show on many of the pages where she appeared. Knowlton does a wonderful job of creating riveting, well fleshed-out characters, most of them with hearts of gold, who are not without their warts, that the reader will be rooting for. Additionally, I’ve always felt that creating authentic young characters demands specialized skill, obviously a skill Knowlton possesses.

The ties of friendship between the characters, found family, identity, belonging, and of course the yearning between Tyren and Serena, are central themes of the novel. No surprises there, considering the YA standpoint from which the novel is written. Refreshingly, Knowlton also adroitly, sensitively, tackles some very mature themes, including racism, mental and emotional concerns such as anxiety, trauma, revenge, and loss.

Among the many strengths of the book, some of which I’ve already described, this novel lives and dies on the weight of its frenetic action sequences, which are wonderfully written. If you love fast-paced novels, this is your type of book. The heroes battle humans, monsters, and all sorts of opponents, constantly. There is sword swinging, magic wielding, explosions, injuries, death, destruction and overall mayhem in abundance.

The combat scenes are furious, bloody, and readers who crave that sort of action never have to wait long for more, for the next brutal encounter is right around the corner. The monsters are downright scary, the villains are deliciously evil and nasty, and be prepared to have your pulse raised, quickly, in the opening chapters of the book, and to sustain that level of dread and excitement for much of the novel.

Not only does this book read fast because of the pacing, but it’s also only around 330 pages, so devourers of the typical voluminous epic fantasy tome (such as I) will be able to plow through this one in no time.

My minor criticism of the books lies with the prose. Occasionally, it is highly atmospheric and evocative, and sometimes quite elegant, with some truly memorable and quotable passages, such as this:

“There’s no greater political threat than someone whom the masses adore. Someone who listens and understands their plight.”

Yet sometimes the fluidity of the prose felt a bit inconsistent. I don’t doubt that this will only get better as Knowlton continues to write more, and I can’t wait to read his next book, and relish those improvements.

Overall, Knowlton’s storytelling shines, his characterization is very good, and I very much look forward to reading more of his work!

The career of this new author has started with a bang! Fans of coming-of-age, YA fantasy who covet interesting quests, incredible fight scenes, friendship, love, and hope, would do well to pick up “Seekers: The Winds of Change”, by Troy Knowlton!


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