I was going to review both of these books together, but then decided it would be better to do them as two separate mini-reviews. These are prequels to the Spellslinger series, but if you haven’t read those, that is ok. You can certainly read these two books first. That said you should also check out my review for the Spellslinger series. It is a really fun and different kind of fantasy.
These two books are basically the origin story for one of the characters in the Spellslinger books Ferius Parfax, who was one of my favorites of the series.
Way of the Argosi by Sebastian de Castell
Publication Date: April 22, 2021
This book starts off with Ferius being very young, around 10 and goes to her young teens. It was so fascinating to see how her childhood, or rather lack of one, shaped who she becomes. I was actually quite surprised that she even survives the horrors of her childhood to become as wonderful as she is.
Ferius does go through quite a lot in a very short time. Some of it is quite horrific and some of the things the Jan’tep mages do to her are mind boggling and tortuous to read. I don’t blame her for hating them as much as she does. But she is a resilient young child and does manage to survive. She also luckily meets others who want to help her along the way. I also enjoyed that a certain squirrel cat’s mother makes an appearance.
The world building is not quite as extensive in this book, but you get enough to understand it. It is an interesting world, where some people have magic and others do not. There are a lot of different countries and cultures as well, many of which Ferius encounters in the book. The pacing is quite fast, with many chapters ending in cliffhangers that make you want to keep reading.
There are also illustrations of the four ways of the Argosi and you learn alot more about this group of people through these and the descriptions of the ways. It is a fascinating philosophy/way of life that makes you think about your own life and how you could maybe change it for the better.
Fall of the Argosi by Sebastian de Castell
Publication Date: October 14, 2021
This book is just as good as the first one and explores how Ferius finds her path in the Argosi way.
This books starts a few years after the first one ends and has more to do with Ferius finding her path. She meets up with another Argosi, who has already found hers, Rosie. And she also rescues and then protects a young boy named, Binta. Between the three of them they must fight this horrible plague that if left unchecked will destroy everyone in its path. I loved the growth that Ferius achieves in this book, and her struggles to find her way. But also her triumphs and finally finding her path.
The story is also very fast paced, and at times very violent. The Red Scream Plague basically drives everyone insane and drives them to kill everyone they encounter. The mystery about the origins of the plague and how it is transmitted is fascinating and unlike anything I have read before. This book also has some humor and some bright spots among all the darkness. That is what will make you love Ferius. There is a little romance that brews between Ferius and Rosie, but does not overshadow the story.
There are more illustrations in this book of the seven talents of the Argosi and their explanations. These talents range from physical fighting, to valor to language and persuasion. You again are given a lot of insight into how the Argosi think and see the world as well as how they work to change it. As well as Ferius understanding of them and how she interprets them.
If you enjoy fantasy with a well built and interesting world, this is a series that I would recommend. There are some great characters, lots of humor, lots of action and swashbuckling as well as frontier wisdom to keep you entertained long into the night.