TheWriteReads Blog Tour Review: Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret….

Thanks to The Write Reads for inviting me to take part in this Ultimate Blog Tour! I thought Knightmare Arcanist sounded like exactly the type of fantasy story I enjoy and I’m pleased to say I was right. This was one of the most enjoyable fantasy books I’ve read for a long time.

I have a slight confession/apology to the author – I have shortened they synopsis of the book above as I felt that the second half of the synopsis contained a spoiler for information that isn’t actually given until about halfway through the book. If you want to read the full synopsis you can find it here on Goodreads.

That out of the way I can get back to telling you why, as a fantasy reader, you should be adding this book to your TBR list. A quest, sentient animal companions, a nod to the ‘farm boy’ and a ‘big bad’, this story had all the elements I love in a fantasy book.

The worldbuilding in this story was seamlessly built in to the narrative as we learnt about the world as we followed Volke in his determination to become an Arcanist – someone bonded to a mythical creature, allowing the creature to fully develop and the arcanist to use magic. Arcanists are respected and renowned the world over, using their skills to help others.

The odds seem stacked against Volke and his adopted sister Illia as they strive to be more than gravediggers on their small island but they work together in pursuit of their goals anyway.

The bond between Volke and Illia is lovely, both separately adopted by the Gravekeeper when no one else would have them, they grew up as brother and sister. Volke’s awareness that they are no longer children and of being respectful of Illia’s space is heartwarming.

I adore animal companions in stories anyway – doubly so intelligent speaking ones so the mythical creatures of this book tick a lot of boxes for me. I adore Luthair, the knightmare that Volke finds and his role as protector, teacher and justice seeker.

The limiting of Volke’s magic through him being ‘second bonded’ i.e. the second person to bond with his creature is very clever. It gives Volke power but he also has to use his wits and not rely solely on it.

I enjoyed watching Volke learn about his new powers and navigate his relationships with other new arcanists along with his own feelings. The way the group pulled together was well done with personality conflicts able to be set aside when needed and slow trust building.

All in all it was one of those rare books I picked up at any moment I could – I was surprised at how much I genuinely loved it. So much so that as soon as I had finished it I immediately downloaded the second book and started reading that.

A gem of a fantasy series and one I’ll be recommending to anyone I can get to listen!

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