Arsalan the Magnificent

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
308 Pages
Reviewed on 01/01/2024
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Arsalan the Magnificent is a work of fiction in the historical, fantasy, and adventure subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience but can also be enjoyed by older middle-grade and adult readers. Penned by author J E Tolbert, this charming and engaging tale is set in the early 19th century, in a world where the magical architects of the Ottoman Empire craft fantastical structures. The protagonist, Arsalan Ozdikmen, faces a fall from grace when his grand creation collapses, leading to his exile to the Balkans. What unfolds is a journey of redemption, self-discovery, and unexpected alliances.

Author J E Tolbert has lovingly crafted a truly enchanting reading experience with plenty of imaginative and unique touches that put a new spin on historical fantasy. Tolbert intricately combines well-researched historical elements with magical realism, creating a world that feels familiar and yet totally fantastical at the same time. Arsalan's character development, from the heights of success to the depths of disgrace, is a poignant exploration of resilience and picking yourself up after disappointment, which is a strong emotive theme for the YA audience to follow. The smooth and often lyrical feel of the narrative captures the essence of the era, providing an accessible balance of pacy action and historical-sounding prose moments. There’s plenty of detailed description and atmospheric lexis to offer a vivid backdrop for the magical elements, always adding more whimsical touches to the story. Overall, Arsalan the Magnificent is a captivating tale that seamlessly blends history and fantasy, leaving readers with a sense of wonder and reflection, and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Nino Lobiladze

Sultan Muhteşem of the Ottoman Empire wanted to construct a unique building resembling a leaf on the stem that would serve as a university to spread education and the idea of world peace. Arsalan the Magnificent, the magical architect, accepted the challenge. But the beautiful building collapsed on the opening day. Enraged, the sultan forbade Arsalan's participation in other projects in his kingdom until he found the reason for the collapse. Arsalan became a pariah. His wife, Teodora, a noblewoman from Brzeg, left him and returned to her homeland. His sons, Omer and Asker, abandoned him. Arsalan's beloved daughter, Defne, disappeared without a trace because of the cruel suitor for her hand, Prince Ergin. Devastated, Arsalan sold his palace at a low price and left the empire for the Balkan mountains, hoping to find Defne there. A distant mountain village sheltered him and his cat, Kizil. Suddenly, a Bavarian princess asked for his help and assistance. Will Arsalan find the reason for the alleged magic depletion in his and other magical buildings? Arsalan the Magnificent by J. E. Tolbert is for young adult fans of fantasy and magical realism.

In Arsalan the Magnificent, J. E. Tolbert offers an intriguing blend of architecture and magic. The author's concept of magic is interesting and thought-provoking. I liked how Arsalan renovated his humble house in the Balkan mountains. The description of his magical work is precise and vivid. Tolbert explores the inner transformation of his aging main character in that Arsalan must learn his life lessons the hard way. Otherwise, there will be no progress, neither in his work nor in his personal life. Tolbert creates realistic and lively characters, like the iron-willed Teodora or the kind and a bit naive Princess Berthilde, who carries an enormous responsibility on her young shoulders. Arsalan the Magnificent touches on the meaningful topics of relationships and conflicts between parents and their children and between teachers and their students. Tolbert contrasts humility with vanity and speaks about the inner freedom of making the right choices. This is a powerful story with many fascinating twists and turns. I highly recommend this profound and compelling read.

Risah Salazar

Arsalan is one of the greatest magical architects, if not the greatest, commissioned by Sultan Muhtesem to build what he saw in his dream: a single stem with a single leaf that's sufficient for a huge percentage of the world's population to occupy, serving as a university of peace. Unexpectedly, the World's Leaf falls into ruins on the same day of its groundbreaking, causing Arsalan to lose his great reputation. His life of luxury and his family fall apart. In his journey to find a new home, he is forced to adopt a stray cat he named Kizil. After years of hiding in the Balkans, Bayram, a comrade, finds him and tells him how other edifices built by magical architecture also fell after the World’s Leaf. He then discovers there is a Bavarian princess who specifically requested Arsalan to repair her favorite buildings. Arsalan returns to his practice in Bavaria and things start going well for him. But there are still many questions in his life left unanswered. With this second chance, can he remain humble, or will he go back to being blinded by his fame?

In J.E. Tolbert's Arsalan the Magnificent, words flow with artistic flair, and reading this book is like experiencing poetry. The world-building is astonishing and sets a magical background for the story. The details are impeccable, with every element full of vivid imagery that further helps readers appreciate the ethereal setting and tone. The author's references to architecture are factual. Arsalan the Magnificent starts at a fast pace that gradually slows down and the author handles every transition well. There is a good balance between drama and adventure, satisfying the audience through sad and happy moments. The story highlights the joy of hard work and friendships—something money can't buy. It is a wonderful journey with many layers. This book could be divided into a trilogy as it has arcs within arcs. Fans of magical fantasy will truly enjoy this book.