#BookReview — Dread Pirate Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #2) by Shami Stovall
Dread Pirate Arcanist
(Frith Chronicles #2)
By Shami Stovall
Pirates. Griffins. A lost treasure worth killing for.
While protecting the newborn griffins on the Isle of Landin, Volke Savan and his adopted sister, Illia, run afoul of the Dread Pirate Calisto, the same cutthroat who carved out Illia’s right eye. As a master manticore arcanist, Calisto’s strength and brutality are unrivaled, so when Illia suggests they bring him to justice, Volke wonders if they’ll have what it takes to fight the corsairs on the high seas.
“End me while I can still comprehend the magnitude of my crimes...”
Luthair, a mythical creature known as a Knightmare, lived within the darkness, and sometimes so did Volke Savan, but as the young arcanist sat on the rocky cliff looking out over the Isle of Landin, Volke had no knowledge about how dark this day would become and what it would mean for a regal Griffin, his friends, his sister, and the man whom he was apprenticed to — Master Zelfree.
When the alarm was raised that the majestic Griffin ruler, Ryllin, was missing along with one of his children, Volke was, as all of his fellow arcanists were, keen to help. But when Volke finds Ryllin, things take a very sinister turn. For Ryllin has had an encounter with a Dread Pirate, but not just any Dread Pirate. He had encountered Calisto — captain of the feared Third Abyss.
Illia, Volke’s adoptive sister’s, knew all about Calisto, for that man had murdered her parents and taken her eye. Illia wanted vengeance, she wanted revenge, and she wanted Volke to help her.
But Volke knew that if they went after Calisto, it would be them that died, for Calisto was not given the title of Dread Pirate because of his hospitable personality. Convincing Illia, however, to leave the pirate well alone was a fight that Volke feared he would lose.
From a windy day upon the Isle of Landin to a daring rescue which could kill them all, Dread Pirate Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #2) by Shami Stovall is the enthralling story of Volke Savan and his desperate battle to not only stay alive but to keep Illia and his friends alive as well, in the face of impossible odds.
I was utterly enchanted with Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1), and I could not wait to find out what happened next to Volke Savan. Well, Stovall has done it again, Dread Pirate Arcanist was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. It is in all ways an undeniable success.
Not only has Stovall penned a book that is so utterly enchanting that at times I lost myself so thoroughly that I forgot where I was, but she has also written a book where the realism is almost tangible. The magical world, which is fit to bursting with every conceivable mystical creature, has been written with an impressive sweep and brilliance. I loved every word, every sentence, every syllable. Dread Pirate Arcanist is a brilliant novel from start to finish.
From the backdrop to the characters themselves, this novel is as rich in detail as it is in adventure. Stovall has inked a wild yet strangely familiar landscape in which to set her story, and she has given her readers such a diverse range of characters to root for, that there really is something for everyone in this book. And although Dread Pirate Arcanist is written with the Young Adult audience in mind, I feel that this book, this series, is one that an adult audience would enjoy as well. I know I did!
Volke, whose leads this story through the cleverly crafted first-person narrative, is a character a reader can certainly get behind. He is honest, open and kind. Volke is also at times, painfully shy, especially when it comes to the opposite sex, which made him incredibly endearing. Volke is also the kind of character that inspires trust. Even Master Zelfree shares things with Volke that he has not shared with anyone else. I adored Volke in the first book of this series, and he has continued to capture my attention and my heart in the second.
We learn more about Volke’s “sister,” Illia, in Dread Pirate Arcanist. Illia has a traumatic past which culminated with the murder of her parents and the loss of her right eye. Illia has many reasons to hate, and her anger and her desire for revenge is understandable, but unlike Volke, who overthinks and hesitates before he acts, Illia has no such obstacles in her way. Illia is confident of her abilities, but her judgement is often clouded by her desire for revenge, and because of this, her relationship with Volke changes during the course of this book. She directs her anger at him when really, she is angry with herself and her own inability to achieve what she so desires, which I thought was very moving. Volke is, however, Illia’s one constant in a world that she does not understand. Through her actions and Volke’s interpretation, it is apparent that her feelings for Volke have also changed. She no longer considers him her brother, and although Volke does as he always does, and overthinks their situation, Illia does not. They are not siblings. They were two lost souls who were brought together by luck and circumstance when they were children. I am looking forward to seeing how Volke and Illia’s relationship changes and develops throughout this series.
Another character that I felt I got to know more about in this story is Master Zelfree. Master Zelfree is a master arcanist of The Frith Guild. On the first encounter, Master Zelfree came across as a drunk. He is abrupt. He is rude and yet, this front he puts on hides a broken heart and a shattered soul. I loved Stovall's depiction of Master Zelfree. He is a character that has certainly captured my fascination. He is courageous. He is willing to sacrifice himself. He is a very noble, and a very kind man who is stumbling his way out of the darkness of his grief and daring to live again.
There are several extraordinary magical creatures in this book — from the noble Ryllin to the plague-ridden gargoyle. With the inclusion of Dread Pirate Calisto and his crew, Stovall introduces her readers to some very dark mythical creatures. The Wendigo, with its frosty presence, is the thing of nightmares. It appears malnourished, but the Wendigo’s hunger is never satisfied. Likewise, Calisto’s eldrin, the Manticore, is a genuinely terrifying beast whose powers are immense and seemingly unstoppable — a worthy eldrin for Calisto and his blood-thirsty crew.
Another mythical creature that captured my attention but for all the right reasons was Master Zelfree’s eldrin, Traces, a shape-changing Mimic. In her natural form, Traces is cat-like, but she can mimic jewellery and any of the mythical creatures, which makes Master Zelfree quite powerful, but it, in turn, makes Traces very vulnerable. I adored Traces. She is a sweet-natured creature who is utterly devoted to Master Zelfree. I loved reading about Traces. You never knew what she was going to turn into next!
Although Dread Pirate Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #2) stands firmly on its own two feet, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not start with Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1). The first two books in this series have an awful lot to recommend them, and I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on Book #3. Stovall has mastered the art of writing thoroughly enchanting stories.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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Dread Pirate Arcanist
Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrills to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.