The Black River Chronicles

Level One (The Black River Academy Book 1)

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
296 Pages
Reviewed on 10/21/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Digital Fiction publishes primarily speculative fiction in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. We also dabble in crime, romance, and other fiction when we find great stories that need a good home. We curate, polish, and publish first class stories from professional writers and storytellers to ensure your reading satisfaction. We are very excited to be bringing fans a wide selection of exceptional original and reprint speculative and other fiction stories. We also feature regular short stories on Amazon and at, as well as publish author collections and novels.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite

In The Black River Chronicles (Level One) by David Tallerman and Michael Wills, the Black River Academy of Swordcraft and Spellcraft is a go-to training centre for rangers, wizards, fighters and rogues. Its current newest group of students has been at the academy for three months and, as such, it is time to group them into parties of four - one from each craft - that would henceforth execute their quests together. Durren - a ranger with a big secret - is grouped with Tia - a rogue who thinks she is too good for the group, Arein - a wizard too emotional for her own good - and Hule - a fighter who acts before he thinks. Together they will be sent on various missions for the academy. After their embarrassingly disastrous first quest, the group is spared punishment only after a staff member desiring a challenge offers to take them on as their mentor. The group can barely stand each other, yet they must work together to prove they deserve the second chance they have been given. But when your tasks include capturing a wicked unicorn and stealing from a monastery filled with crazed priests, a lot can go wrong. Noticing something weird about their tasks, they decide to take on a side quest of their own and get to the bottom of it all.

The Black River Chronicles: Level One by David Tallerman and Michael Wills is a captivating YA adventure that combines an amazing setting, a fascinating cast of characters, and flawless narration to give you a thrilling reading experience. The descriptive narration is very vivid and draws you into this world of magic, adventure and action. The entire story could have been set within the boundaries of the academy and still be a winning setting, but then quests, each set in a unique and memorable location, added even more adventure and thrills. David Tallerman and Michael Wills produced one hell of an adventure - a must-read for all who enjoy thrilling, fast-paced YA adventures. The Black River Chronicles: Level One is a brilliant start to what will no doubt be an award winning series and I cannot wait to see what trouble the group gets into at the next level.

Arya Fomonyuy

The Black River Chronicles: Level One by David Tallerman and Michael Wills is a fantasy for young readers, a great story that showcases the might of teamwork, set against the challenging environment of the Black River Academy of Swordcraft and Spellcraft for young adventurers. Readers are introduced to very interesting characters who have to work together to progress to the next level in their studies, but it’s not just about succeeding in taking accurate aim with the arrow and mastering discipline, because there are deadly enemies and challenges to face, and a dark magic they must shield themselves against. The book underlines the primacy of teamwork and unveils the secret that no one succeeds alone.

Fantasy lovers are in for a great treat with funny and compelling characters. Durren Flintrand, a guy who easily gets bored and who can just feel okay with mediocrity, has to make progress only on one condition — that he works with three not so likeable others. His teammates Areinelimus, the magician, Hule the warrior, and Tia the rogue aren’t easy to work with. But these characters will learn to trust each other because they come to understand that their survival depends largely on their ability to accept and complement one another.

The story is well told, starting with a vivid description of the clumsiness of Durren’s teammates in the skill of archery, the setting, and the psychological conflict raging within his mind. Readers are introduced to the key characters early in the story and they immediately sense the friction between them. But watching the characters grow in trust and confidence as they sharpen their skills and become more sensitive to the presence of each other in the game is highly satisfactory. There is fighting, witchcraft, friendship, and a lot going on in the story. Besides being a wonderful and entertaining story, The Black River Chronicles: Level One by David Tallerman and Michael Wills stands out in the lessons it offers to both young and adult readers. A lot will surprise and keep you turning the pages.

Benjamin Ookami

The Black River Chronicles: Level One (Black River Academy Book 1) is a fantasy young adult novel by David Tallerman and Michael Wills. A first-time student at the Black River Academy for Swordcraft and Spellcraft, Durren, an aspiring ranger, doesn't want to draw any attention. Concerning the party with whom he will be tasked to complete quests, he has no choice as to who he will be teaming up with. First, there's Hule, whom he thinks of as an idiotic fighter. Second, there's Arein, a dwarf girl who wants to be a wizard, but who's afraid of using magic. Then there's the mysterious and always quick-to-act rogue girl, Tia. Their first quest ends in disaster. They're not off to a great start at the academy at all.

It seems that David Tallerman and Michael Wills have set out on a mission to take all of the elements of a good fantasy RPG game and put them into a book that old-school fantasy geeks like me cannot help but feel nostalgic about. It featured the typical archer (ranger), warrior (fighter), wizard, and rogue as the heroes. I wasn't overly wowed by the world building, but because the heroes started to grow on me as I progressed through the story, I found it quite enjoyable. Durren, Hule, Arein, and Tia each shine in different parts. The lesson that they learned as a team will certainly make them stronger when it comes to the inventive tasks that Tallerman and Wills have in store for them in future installments.

Lex Allen

The Black River Chronicles: Level One by David Tallerman and Michael Wills sets the stage for what will surely be an interesting and adventure filled series for the four lead characters. Durren the ranger, Arein the wizard, Hule the fighter, and Tia the rogue are teenage students at the Black River Academy for Swordcraft and Spellcraft. After three months of individual training in their specialties, the four have been placed together in a party (team), with the goal of working together to complete assigned tasks designed to grade them for promotion to the second level. The party starts off awkwardly and seems completely incapable of working together. Following a couple of missions that end with mixed results, the party begins to gel, but they’ve also developed suspicions that something is very wrong at Black River Academy.

The first book, in what will surely become at least a six or seven book series, establishes the strengths and weaknesses of the four primary protagonists, as well as a supporting cast that easily attracts the empathy of the reader. All the characters are well developed with story lines that complement each other while leaving room for growth as the series grows. The writing itself is well edited, the narrator’s voice is steady throughout the book and the sub-plots are clearly delineated. While this first book didn’t ‘knock my socks off,’ it’s well above average and worthy of a recommendation to all fans of young adult fantasy stories. There’s room at the top and I can visualize The Black River Chronicles developing into a top-notch, best-selling series.

Kris Moger

I found The Black River Chronicles, Level One, by David Tallerman and Michael Wills, to be an enjoyable adventure. Written in the traditional world of role playing, the story centers on Durren Flintrand--a novice ranger with a secret that could get him expelled from the Black River Academy for Swordcraft and Spellcraft. As his training continues, he is assigned to an expedition party of fellow students who have secrets of their own. And then there is their mentor, a mysterious tutor who might not have their best interests in mind. Thrown together, Durren and his team must learn to work together and trust each other to save their school and their lives.

At first, when I started the book, I feared The Black River Chronicles would be filled with cliches and stereotypical characters. However, while The Black River Chronicles, Level One may not seem like a unique story in the fantasy genre, the authors, David Tallerman and Michael Willis, have created an enjoyable adventure filled with engaging characters, plenty of danger, and enough twists to keep a person wanting to read to the end. The story is vivid in description, and each character is true to fantasy tradition while bringing with them their own unique voice. Overall, The Black River Chronicles is a great read for anyone who likes role playing or traditional fantasy tales. I enjoyed the story and the characters equally and look forward to reading more.