THE WAY OF RENEGADES by Steve D. Wall
Review and cut by Shaggy Shepherd
An action-packed flintlock fantasy book about guns, mages, bards and dragons!
Ulric, former war hero, has been living a quiet life of exile in the frontier city of Quinport and wants only to continue hiding from the mistakes of his past. But then he discovers the invention of a revolutionary new kind of rifle, and worse, the ruling Coalition discovers his identity. Rather than be blackmailed into service, Ulric goes to leave the city with the new rifles, but first he will need more money, or more help.
Enter Dellioph, no mere bard, who just arrived to Quinport and wants only to play his music and to keep his secrets. But trying to do both lands him directly in the path of one of the Coalition Chancellors, who wants to use Dellioph, and his secrets, for himself. Unable to scheme his way out entirely, Dellioph must choose to keep his secrets, his freedom, or his music. But when the choice is between anything and his music, it’s no choice at all.
And Gali, future chief of the Odagna, who wants nothing more than to save her people, even if that means forcing them to change. She disobeys her father, lies to her people, and travels to the Coalition city to learn how to do some of the things they do— making and using muskets foremost among them. But the people of the Coalition are not ready to accept the Teo, and Gali will be forced to learn the hard way that a renegade’s only friend is another renegade.
Meanwhile, two mysterious strangers from opposite sides of the world come hunting a sorcerer who has unbelievable power, a hunger for more, and dragons… but they are nothing like the stories.
Order your copy and join the action-packed journey of flintlocks, magic and dragons!
I’ll be honest, I really struggled getting into this book at first while using the audiobook. The narrator is great but for some reason it just wasn’t pulling me in. I decided to switch to the ebook until I got a better grip on the characters and from then on it worked much better for me and I was able to switch back and forth with both formats. Sometimes my brain is just weird.
This story introduces a really interesting set of characters from varying cultures and professions. It also has a really interesting villain that I wanted to learn more about since those are often the types of characters that I end up loving the most. While the characters were introduced separately at first, I liked the way they converged upon each other eventually. It felt very smooth rather than the forced meetings I encounter sometimes.
While I do like the info we’ve gotten about the magic system so far, I also like that this part didn’t overwhelm the entire story overall. I am a sucker for interesting magic systems but I also like them to be well-balanced with an interesting story otherwise that isn’t propelled forward solely based on said magic system. I want there to be other good components as well.
That being said, I felt like the plot took a while to find itself. It very much felt like a setup book for the series for a long time. It was only about two thirds in that I felt invested in the story for this particular book (rather than deciding for the whole series) but at that point it was almost too late for me. I did finish it and continued to feel that it was relatively well written but it was just a little too late for me to completely buy into the series. Those readers that don’t mind slower books though should still consider giving it a try since it does have some really interesting things to it and it does end with a bang.
If this sounds like your cup of tea in spite of Shaggy’s reservations, check out Goodreads or hop over to Amazon to grab your copy!