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“Even gods have their beginnings.”

Way of the WizardIn Way of the Wizard, Michael Michel smoothly blends epic, grimdark and progression fantasy to create a fast-paced and action-packed adventure full of magnificent creatures, monstrous adversaries, and lots of magical mayhem.

Presented as a chronicler’s tale, an ancient wizard who has ascended to godhood transports us centuries back in time to when they were still a mere teenager without any powers. What follows is an intimate first-person recounting of the young El’s harrowing quest into the dangerous Wildness, where they become a Seeker and are dead-set on obtaining the Power. And as is warned at the start: “This road is suffering. Pain will be your guidepost.”

Now, I love me a good chunky fantasy brick to sink my teeth into, but sometimes it is also incredibly fun and refreshing to just get swept up in a propulsive and tight fantasy adventure like Way of the Wizard. In under 300 pages, Michel gives an exciting taste of his crazy imagination and impressive storytelling skills, resulting in a wild rollercoaster of a read that will keep you on your toes from start to finish.

The world building immediately drew me in here, especially because Michel infuses this world and narrative with a looming sense of dread from the very first page. Be it the threat of the brutal Stormseye Brotherhood inside the city of Cannalis, the frightening legends about the Wildness, the mystifying scroll that guides El, or the untrustworthy nature of anyone and anything El encounters on their quest, I was just absolutely eating up all the tension and suspense. 

I do have to say that I think the character work suffered a bit from the shorter page count and more action-heavy narrative, especially because significant events are rushed through and brushed over in a frustratingly quick manner. To me, it felt like El’s entire personality was simply ‘I want to be a Wizard’, and their journey lacked real emotional depth to me. The side characters also felt quite one-dimensional, which made the interpersonal relationships seem a bit insignificant, causing certain twists and turns in the story to fall a bit flat for me.

Still, even without the rich character work and deeper emotional investment that I usually look for in my fantasy stories, I was still quite along for the ride. Michel’s prose is extremely bingeable, but without feeling simplistic or uninspired. In fact, it was mostly the strong prose and the evocative and immersive descriptions of all the wonders and horrors in this story that kept me glued to the page, and I ended up devouring Way of the Wizard in under 24 hours. 

The final chapters were extremely pulse-pounding, if a little rushed, leading up to a thrilling ending sequence that still has me reeling. And even though I love the bittersweet nature of this slightly open ending, I am now quite desperate for more stories set in this world, because I feel like there are still so many intriguing hidden layers just waiting to be peeled back.

The shorter page count combined with the exciting twists on some of the most beloved fantasy tropes makes Way of the Wizard a perfect introduction to the genre, while also filling long-time fantasy veterans with both comfort and surprise. I would highly recommend this if you are looking to embark upon a fast-paced and action-packed fantasy quest full of mysteries, monstrosities, and magic!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Way of the Wizard is scheduled for release on 21 May, 2024. 

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Way of the Wizard

Esmay Rosalyne

Esmay is a self-proclaimed professional book devourer from The Netherlands. While (dark) fantasy will always have her heart, she is also a big indie/self-pub enthusiast and will probably read anything if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Or, you know, if it promises complete emotional destruction. When not reading books, she is probably reviewing books, talking about books, or watching videos of fellow bookworms talking about books.

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