Book Review - THE WARDEN by Daniel M. Ford

(Title: The Warden / Author: Daniel M. Ford / Publisher: Tor / Publication Date: April 18, 2023 / Total Pages: 320)

Back Cover Blurb

There was a plan.

She had the money, the connections, even the brains. It was simple: become one of the only female necromancers, pass as many certifications as she could, get a post near the capital, then...profit. The funny thing about plans is that they are seldom under your control.

Now Aelis, a daughter of a noble house and a trained Magister of the Lyceum, finds herself in the far-removed village of Lone Pine. mending fences and delivering baby goats, serving people who want nothing to do with her. But, not all is well in Lone Pine, and as the villagers Aelis is reluctantly getting to know start to behave strangely, Aelis begins to suspect that there is far greater need for a warden of het talents than she previously thought.

Old magics are restless, and an insignificant village on the furthest border of the kingdom might hold secrets far beyond what anyone expected. Aelis might be the only person standing between one of the greatest evils ever known and the rest of the free world.

THE WARDEN is definitely a book with a ton of potential. I really enjoyed the female necromancer aspect and the world that Daniel M. Ford created is an intriguing one that hints at more to be revealed later on down the road. It's also a story that I easily got lost in for stretches. In the beginning of the book we see main character Aelis a little annoyed at the fact that she didn't get a better assignment as a warden, feeling she'd been given the worst of the worst compared to her fellow Magisters. Lone Pine is not exactly in the center of civilization nor a hotbed of evil activity. And yet we can tell that we are being set up for something that will soon change her perspective on things.

Once the action picks up this was a fairly enjoyable fantasy romp that refreshingly deviates from the usual formulaic fantasty books. Aelis has to deal with a lot of roadblocks, including a populace in this small backwater town that inherently doesn't trust her. Yet they also need her for protection which makes the relationship reluctantly symbiotic in many respects.

For some reason though I just never got fully invested as I feel like I should have, that's where the potential comment I made earlier comes in. I kept waiting for something to get me 100% hooked but that didn't happen and although I did enjoy the book for the most part, it kept me from being able to give this a stellar rating. 

I do believe that Daniel M. Ford can pull me back in and I was dazzled a couple of times by his descriptions of magic. So I would certainly continue on with this series as I feel like the characters are also neatly drawn and have a significant depthness to them. So there's a lot to like and the next book will hopefully build on the solid foundation that has been laid down in THE WARDEN. 

I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a quick fantasy read that features a strong female protagonist, really cool magic, and some fascinating worldbuilding that transports the reader into a wondrous setting. Overall I liked this book and will anticipate future releases from Daniel M. Ford with keen interest. 



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