“Your first death is always the hardest.”
Miguela was the third-born child of a well-off merchant family and knew from around the time she could speak that her life’s path was already decided for her by her father. She was to become an Orator, as was Xandran tradition. However, Miguela had an affinity with the magikal arts and somehow found herself studying at the Academy.
One fateful day, the government offers Miguela an opportunity to join a team tasked with the mission of gathering intelligence via scrying magik. The catch is that Miguela and her associates can only scry the deceased.
Miguela finds the memories of the dead haunting but is adamant not to fail because the prospect of regaining control of her life and using her magik to help others gives her a purpose in life that she never had before. Of course, Miguela soon discovers her new job has an exorbitant cost. Will she be willing to pay when the bill comes due?
Welcome to Five Kingdoms of Cordizal!
What is the Five Kingdoms of Cordizal?
I often get asked this type of question about my stories by friends, bloggers, and potential readers.
The Five Kingdoms of Cordizal is a high-fantasy epic universe that is the setting for most of my stories. The foundation of the universe is its multicultural, multiracial setting with several sentient races attempting to carve their legacy and survive. The world is fully fleshed out and vibrant with a rich and mysterious history not based on Tolkien mythology.
This brings me to magic. To me, magic is an essential part of the fantasy genre, so, of course, there is magic in the Five Kingdoms universe. However, one critical part of the Five Kingdoms universe is that magic is an abundant commodity that is a part of everyday life and not some plot device used to drive the story.
In short, the Five Kingdoms universe is the setting of epic fantasy stories with deep characters and world-building. I try to tell as many different types of stories as possible in the universe, and hopefully, you can find something for you in it.
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Story: I love the magic system here, or more specifically the MC's branch of magic. There seems to be the more traditional elemental and other schools of magic present in the world, but it's not those we get to explore. The scrying is such a different brand of magic that a typical mc normally would possess, it's quite refreshing. The details are a bit hazy (on purpose) but I still would like to know more and can't wait until mc becomes a master in her craft.
The over arching conflict is still a mystery at this point, but the point of the story is about uncovering what's going on. It centers on the intelligence side of a possible brewing war, and it's not often we get to see that in fantasy. But don't expect action packed scenes early on. There is still some as the nature of scrying put her I others shoes, but it is not the focus.
Character: mc is a fairly typical fantasy lead breaking away from an unwanted fate, but it works. Her friend is cute and charming, and the arch mage is just smooth and slightly creepy enough for me to think there's way more behind this scryer project than the poor mc signed up for. I don't buy his act.
The best part in my opinion is the scryer short stories about getting to know briefly the life of someone right before their death. It's morbid, scary, and real. Good stuff.
Grammar: didn't notice anything that pulled me out of the story. Good job on the editing.
Style: the nature of the story pulls the reader in and out of many different povs, but it's done fluidly and feels right.
Love it so far. Followed and looking forward to reading more.
Story 4/5: Typically, you can say I'm not the biggest fan of the "magical school" genre. Other than Harry Potter, Percy Jackson (Kind of), and a handful of others, most of these kinds of stories I've come across genuienly bore me and are more often than not uninteresting. Fortunately, the same can't be said here. The author does a good job at fleshing out the school and how it relates to the rest of the world. While the bulk of the story I've read so far entirely revolves around school setting, it never felt monotonous or a chore to read, due in part to how our main character Miguela interacts and explores it. If I were to have one criticism, though, it would be that I wish we could also learn about more aspects of the world at large, instead of just hearing a few characters mention or allude to events outside of the campus.
Style 5/5: Not much to complain on this front. The author adopts a very digestable reading style that permits the viewers to easily get engaged in what they are reading. Not to mention, it makes the story's flow feel believable, diegetic, and free rather than unrealistic, blunt, and static.
Grammar 4.5/5: There were a few mistakes and typos littered here and there but nothing to throw a tantrum over as they can always be fixed in subsequent edits. They aren't enough to detract from the quality of the narrative, I feel.
Characters 3.5/5: The characters here really aren't all that original or unique from the typical fantasy/YA types of characters you can expect to encounter in stories of similar design. However, this isn't entirely a bad thing. The author knows how to make them, or at least, the progatonist Miguela fairly interesting and sympathetic. Her innocence of the world she lives is also something that isn't exactly revolutionary but the author's portrayal of her makes watching her explore and study the arts of scrying more enjoyable than other Fish Out Of Water protagonists I'm so used to seeing. Couple these fascets of her character with a likable personality and an interesting backstory and you've got yourself a servicable main character to follow on her magical misadventures. The other characters, however, could use some more fleshing out and development to make them feel more alive. As it stands, they come across less as people but rather as walking exposition dumps.
Overall, from what I've read thus far, it is a nice story to check out. Disregarding the concept of scrying, there really isn't anything completely original about it. Then again, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means the author has to work twice as heard to make a memorable story and world with the assets available, which, I feel, this author accomplishes. If you like young adult type fiction centered in a mystical school sprinkled with fantasy elements, you'll have an enjoyable time here.
My first reaction to her rapping (not wrapping) on the door was, 'why include this detail?' Why tell us that she felt the action, of course she felt the … OH!
I love that she hears no sound. Such a good detail. Interesting and unbalancing in the best way.
Wrinkled as a dried grape is strong, too. Visual and satisfying.
I'm a fan of the whole, 'throw the protagonist into an interview-type situation to give their backstory in dialogue' strategy. I guess it's a bit heavy-handed but I always like it, and it definitely worked for me here. It just makes everything move.
Miguela's decision feels almost too easy … but then her suspicion that she may have 'been played like a cheap fiddle' turns that around immediately. Instead of getting the sense that the author is manipulating the character, it feels like the characters are manipulating other characters, and that's great. Makes me wonder/worry exactly what she's getting herself into …
This really worked for me. It orients the reader into the world, and propells us toward the next plot point.
The scrying mechanic is so cool. I can't wait to see it play out more as I read. Without spoiling, for newcomers to the story, it's a really ingenious feat of magic and unlocks a really bag of tricks for the author. In addition, the author is polished, the world building is neat, and there's tons of 'casual drops of not casual things' which I love in fantasy. ie) Bipedal reptilians.
Overall, this is a very strong sory with a strong premise that I think will carry it quite far.
Style: It is perfectly fine, though some of the syntax can be a tiny bit awkward. Makes sense for it considering that this is an early draft, and the core principles of the writing aesthetic remain quite excellent.
Grammar: Grammar seems very good, I have seen no issues with it thus far. It passes my most important test: at no point did the grammar or spelling pull me out of the story. I remained hooked the entire time!
Story: Very slight ding here because, having not read the other books in this setting, I did feel a bit tossed into the water without any guidance at the very beginning. Once I got over that feeling, though, I really found myself engaged in what's going on. There is definitely more than meets the eye to what everyone is plotting!
Character: Miguela is very fresh and fun character, but the real key here is the way that the scrying works. Essentially, it becomes a tool to give us little vignettes about the lives of characters right up to the moment of their deaths, creating tiny dramas that are complete pieces of flash fiction in the middle of the story.
All in all, I highly recommend this story!
The core of this story revolves around one thing, the new and relatively unknown field of magic involving Scrying. Interestingly, this style of Magic works differently then you might expect, not showing far away places, but rather piercing beyond the veil of death.
Imagine seeing the world through the eyes of the deceased, the last moments before death firmly grasps its victim. Imagine experiencing the thoughts of an accomplished spy, right before they got caught. Or the last gasp of a powerful warrior dying to an otherworldly foe.
Enter Miguela, an aspiring Scryer who throws herself into this burgeoning field of study, and all the secrets it holds. Each glimpse reveals more secrets, all of which bundle together to give tantalizing glimpses into a magical world unlike our own.
The strengths of this work is the story and the characters. While Miguela might not be an accomplished battlemage, the flashes of another life give good bursts of combat, and the implications behind some deaths make for interesting intrigue.
Currently, the side characters aren't quite as developed, but I hope that their motivations will be further shown in time.
Overall, I recommend the story to any fantasy lovers who want some mystery in their novels!
Overall, I would say that this is a great novel and although I have read many books of the same genre, it did not feel tedious at all, and I have to say that this story stands out from the rest. The author does not include cliches while still staying true to the genre, which is something I greatly appreciate.
Style: There's no way for me to nitpick the author's style. The story flows smoothly, and the dialogue feels realistic. It is always clear what is happening in the story, and I never had to re-read to understand what was going on.
Grammar: The quality of the writing in this novel is good, and I have not noticed any obvious grammar mistakes in the story.
Story: The story follows the life of an unmotivated girl who joins a research team to become a scryer and finally manages to find control of her fate. The story sucks you in from the first chapter and makes it so that you can not help but want to quickly click the next chapter to find out what happens next. It is described in vivid detail, making it feel like you are personally there witnessing everything that happens and helps us sympathise with our girl and fear whatever dangers she may face.
Characters: I love our main girl (Miguela), as the author made it easy for the readers to connect with her and perfectly understand her emotions. However, I can't help but feel that the other characters in this story only exist about her and not independently. It might be because there has not been a scene without Miguela (that I recall of), but since the story revolves around her, I don't think it's that much of a problem.
Great story, author. Keep it up. And to all my high fantasy novel lovers, this story is for you!
Fragments of the Wildlands, a perfect title for an interesting piece of literature that has two main aspects to it. The life and story of the MC, a scryer, and the World Building that is done amazingly well in a piecemeal style.
Style: The style is fine, with a 3rd Person POV. It isn't my preferred POV, but is done very well and I have little issue with the dialogue, except for certain conversations that might need a few more contractions to make things sound more natural and living. The Scrying is handled well and I can always tell what is happening in the story, the descriptions of action and environment coming across very well.
Story: The story is great. Learning about the greater conflicts of the world around as the MC effectively looks out her window from her secluded, detached place in the world and is slowly realized that a lot of conflicts are going that she didn't even realize. The implications of Scrying, the unknown ramifications, and the underlining manipulations from some of the MC's most trusted make this a great story to theorize and discuss!
Grammer: The grammer is good, not problems from what I have been able to see. If there are any issues, they certainly haven't disturbed the pace of the reading or the general message as a whole, which I believe is satisfactory.
Character: Really enjoy all of the characters, each of them having unique and pleasant interactions with the MC, while also having their own motivations and suspicions. The MC, who seems to just be trying to deal with the weight of her new job, actually has a lot of ther characters pointing out odd things than she ever picks up on her own. I, personally, really like that. The MC is certainly being manipulated and her experiences with Scrying have left her somewhat disturbed from what I can tell, not able to see every subtlety going around like some of her unaddled supporting friends can. Still, there is a sense of duty and expectations that will push her further and further and I am really interested in when she'll draw the line, if she ever does before its too late.
Overall, I like the story so far shown and it seems there is more to it that awaits a reader, after all, there are two books written by the author.
Style Score; Hmm, there is not much to say about the style of the story. It's not like it's anything groundbreaking new in the style it's written, but there are no shortcomings from what my amateur eyes could observe. Still, this is a good way to slowly develop world-building.
Grammar Score; The only reason I have not given a full 5 Stars, is because I have seen some blocky paragraphs that could be chopped up for a better reading flow. As for grammar itself, I found no problem with it, though I am not the best judge of it.
Story Score; Now this part deserved 5 Stars. It's not my first time seeing scrying magic used in this way, but it is my first time seeing it used massively like this by a government. Makes me think why it was not used more often. Probably because reliving so many perspectives tends to break down people, over a period of time? Still if what my mind imagined is what will probably happen I will follow the story to find out.
Character Score; This one was harder to review, to be honest. While the story has a central figure, she is not the whole world as in the chapters that I have read. Maybe that will change and I have a feeling that will change.
There is much more than meets the eye in this story. Especially the eye of our MC, Miguela.
Miguela is a magik apprentice, not particularly gifted in any field, nor particularly dedicated to her studies. However, she has two qualities that makes her stand out amongst the rest. She is a simple lass, and she always goes with the flow.
This makes her the perfect candidate for a super secret (and arguably unethical) magikal research project. There, she finds herself quickly promoted amongst the ranks, due to her outstanding commitment (or rather lack of opposition) towards the cause.
Thus story is written from Miguela's POV, and watching her navigate an unfamiliar environment where she can't see the cracks in the wall, but we as the reader can, is a fascinating experience.
The story itself is quite intriguing, as it builds up towards some big picture that neither we, not the MC, can yet see.
The scenes told through the characters whose body Miguela posses adds a lot to this experience.
The story flows perfectly, with a good mixture of descriptive prose and dialogue. I particularly enjoyed the variation in paragraph length, which helps a lot with the flow. And, I have not seen any typos or grammatical errors.
There are a few action scenes sprinkled here and there, but this is mostly a character driven story.
TLDR: if you like magical intrigues with rich worldbuilding, or magic school stories, then this one is definitely for you.