Tales of Asterra

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
210 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2023
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Author Biography

Michael Rizzo is a thirty-year-old fantasy fiction writer, who works in finance during the day and often spends evenings writing and creating his fantasy world. When not exploring Asterra, he enjoys indulging his love for adventure with family trips throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. In his spare time, he also enjoys hanging out with his dogs and playing guitar in his band.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Nicholus Schroeder for Readers' Favorite

Tales of Asterra is a collection of short stories set in a fantasy world. Michael Frank Rizzo’s anthology has tales of heroism and loss, triumphs, and defeats. Each magical tale is recounted by Penniforth Rodgers, the witty narrator, and each feels right at home under the umbrella of fantasy. From the whimsical fairies in Julia’s Great Adventure, that create treasures worthy of men’s greed, to brave Templars in The Fires of Prescus, who valiantly fight to protect the city, get ready to be transported to the magical realm of Asterra. While your time there may be short, your journey will be unforgettable as you will be awestruck while taking in the sights and world of Asterra.

The stories in Tales of Asterra are well-written and a pleasure to read. They had great plots, lovable characters, and some deep lore - considering their length. Each story flowed across the page beautifully and I could feel the passion that Michael Frank Rizzo put into his work. He left nothing to chance and wrote down only the best. While I had my favorites in the collection, I certainly didn't dislike any of the other stories. They’re all paced just right and were fun to read. The connections between the stories were a nice touch and helped immerse me further. The glorious illustrations by Alejandro Colucci accentuated the experience as they fitted right in with the different themes and settings. They complemented the haunting, dreary atmosphere in Candles of the Ochre Halls and made each story more memorable, thanks to their careful placement. An excellent read and one I recommend to fantasy lovers.

K.C. Finn

Tales of Asterra is a collection of short fiction in the epic fantasy and adventure subgenres. It is best suited to the young adult reading audience and was penned by author Michael Frank Rizzo with illustrations by artist Alejandro Colucci. The book is narrated by wanderer Penniforth Rodgers, who regales the reader with various stories inspired by the people and places he has encountered on his journey so far. As Penniforth tells his tales, a picture is painted of the land of Asterra, covering everything from the fairies to the pirates and moving to sub-genres as diverse as horror and even self-help.

I cherished my visit to Asterra, possibly because the detailed world-building that had been done by author Michael Frank Rizzo was beautifully shown off, both in prose and the stunning illustrations by Alejandro Colucci, but largely because I had such a charming tour guide in the form of Penniforth Rodgers. Penniforth (or Penny) is a nomadic soul with an infectious enthusiasm for the people of Asterra and the stories they have to share, a perfect curator for the stories shared with the reader. His narration always manages to deftly keep the reader moving forward as it seamlessly links together short stories with some highly diverse genres and themes. Penniforth’s role in the book is what elevates Tales of Asterra from a dry and disconnected collection of stories that happen to be about the same place into a beautiful tapestry depicting a living and breathing world for readers to get lost in. Overall, I was delighted and engaged by every story in the collection, and I dearly hope that Penniforth invites me for another adventure soon.

Grace Ruhara

Tales of Asterra by Michael Frank Rizzo is a compilation of fourteen stories and a poem that will be appreciated by readers who love reading adventurous novels. It presents life-changing events entertainingly and keeps you enjoying yourself as you learn great life lessons through its fantastic locations, such as magical forests and mystical lakes. Among the stories, I loved the story of "A Trial of Thieves" the most. It presents Henry Stillton as the protagonist, who decides to turn a new leaf and move to the town of Balri to start all over again. He made many friends and loved his stay there until he started looking for a job, and his past caught up with him.

What I loved about Tales of Asterra were the images that Michael Frank Rizzo used throughout the book. These images aided in communicating the author's intended message on a deeper level and ensured that I understood what the author meant. The images grabbed my attention and helped paint mental pictures, making the reading experience interesting and fun. I also applaud the author for his unique and exceptionally interesting stories that are well-crafted and relatable to readers. The stories taught me virtues such as generosity, kindness, and love. One of the ways that he presented her stories was through the use of parables. This made it fun and brain-cracking as I tried to solve the puzzles to understand the author's intended message to the reader. The intertextual combination of prose and other figurative elements of language gave this book aesthetic beauty, making it suitable for readers who enjoy literary texts.

Emma Megan

Tales of Asterra by Michael Frank Rizzo contains a wonderful and diverse collection of 14 short fantasy stories and one short fantasy poem. This collection is packed with elves, fairies, dwarves, pirates, serpents, humans, and other creatures from magical forests, mystical lakes, dreadful dungeons, and other wondrous locations. They all come from different times and different areas throughout the majestical land of Asterra. For each tale, there's a startling black-and-white illustration that pairs perfectly with one another for an unforgettable reading experience. It's also worth mentioning the glossary of terms, places, flora, fauna, and important figures that can be found at the end of the book; it will come in handy for every reader. If you're ready for the most magical journey, Penniforth Rodgers will be your storytelling guide.

Tales of Asterra by Michael Frank Rizzo is a magnificent book that has the virtue of being both intriguing and charismatic. It completely staggered me. Each short story provides valuable life lessons, thrilling adventures, and memorable characters and experiences. "The Marker of Tides" is about greed, selfish pursuits, and what matters the most in life. "The Cult of Paldermen" was the most intriguing and horrifying of all and "Upon Laurel Roads" was the most poignant. But my favorite stories from Tales of Asterra are "Captured Time," which is the oldest tale in the collection, and "Lester Mann and the Hollow Hearth." All these tales are beautifully written and offer a lifetime of reading pleasure. Fans of epic fantasy fiction, fantasy horror, literary fiction, fantasy adventure, and suspense will definitely find great value here.

Doreen Chombu

Tales of Asterra by Michael Frank Rizzo is a collection of 14 stories and a poem. The book is presented by a fictional character named Penniforth 'Penny' Rodgers. Penny begins with the tale of Haza Izmir, the timekeeper of Zeris, and then we join Julia on her adventure to Trisden, the Fairy Realm. We meet George, a businessman by the sea, who is keen to win back his love. We are then taught the history of the dwarves and learn about Thomas, the adventurer. Penny tells the tales of the brave Templars in battle and the parrots of peace and justice who try to solve a mystery. He also narrates the stories of Antonio, an honorable man, Henry, a misjudged person, and Lester, a determined boy seeking his dog. Finally, we read stories of a serpent, treasure seekers, Asterra currencies, and a group of dwarves that go on an adventure in the woods. Read the Tales of Asterra, get lost in its magical realms, and discover new stories about its people and creatures.

Tales of Asterra is creative and well-thought-out. The stories are well-detailed, and I could tell the amount of passion and hard work Michael Frank Rizzo put into writing this book. The author's dedication was evident when I read a chapter on invented currencies. Amazing work. Each tale is unique, presenting a new cast of characters, but the stories are also interlinked because they refer to topics from the other stories. Readers can derive different meanings and interpretations from each tale. What I loved the most were the images added to the stories. They helped me envision the characters and gave me a visual landscape of Asterra. I cannot wait to read more from this author and join Penny on new adventures. Possibly our next destination will be the farmlands of Asterra, Aurora.

Donna Rizzo

Excellent book to leave your imagination in inspired.