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Reviewed by Eduardo Aduna for Readers' Favorite
The Chronicles of Aronshae is a sweeping tale of heroism and bravery set in a fantasy land rife with strange creatures and rich in magical lore. In the first book, Spellbound, we are introduced to our lovable protagonists. We have the outdoorsman Jared, who is drawn into a strange journey with the Sorceress Sasha Ironwright and her twin sister, the formidable swordswoman Katya. They join forces together with other unique characters as they try to oppose the Ice Empress Salamasca's plans. Their seemingly impossible quest becomes even more complicated with the meddling of a powerful divine entity. The second book, Icebound, expounds upon the first as Jared and company take the fight to Salamasca's lair while their friends try to retake the city of Snowhaven from the clutches of the Ice Empress. Oathbound, the final book of the series, is set in the exotic Eastern lands as the group chases after the fleeing Salamasca.
Jay and Katie Barber's Spellbound, Icebound, and Oathbound are great books individually, but to read them in a single tome is a priceless experience. One can see the care that the authors take with their characters’ growth and development as each learns from their experiences and opens up to the changing world around them. You can also see that however good the writing, plot, and pace were in the first book, the subsequent ones just get better. Action is fast-paced, breathless and filled with tiny nuggets of technical information that can make readers with a background in martial arts take note. The scale of combat also shifts from one-on-one fighting to larger tactical skirmishes as the trilogy progresses. Even the villains show development and ambiguity, the sign of any good literary work. The Chronicles of Aronshae is the perfect introductory book for fantasy beginners, much like Feist's and Eddings' works. They are easy to read, easy to follow without sacrificing both quality and details. That being said, fantasy enthusiasts everywhere will appreciate the underlying complexity found in the Chronicles of Aronshae, the wealth of detail and the increasing depth each character portrays.
Jay and Katie Barber are two authors that just get better and better, and even more importantly, their risk-taking in terms of their subsequent novels' scope show a burning desire not just to stay within typical fantasy tropes but to push and bend these whenever they can. The Chronicles of Aronshae is the perfect set with which to gain themselves new fans, fans that can become ardent acolytes, accompanying Jay and Katie Barber as both become mainstays in the modern fantasy genre.