The Black River Chronicles

The Ursvaal Exchange (Black River Academy Book 2)

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
255 Pages
Reviewed on 11/30/2017
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Author Biography

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.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite

The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange by David Tallerman is the second book in the Black River Academy series, a compelling story that features magic and characters that are as genuine as they are relatable. Student ranger Durren Flintrand has been through much trouble already and being in Black River Academy for Swordcraft and Spellcraft is almost feeling like home. But when Tia makes a startling discovery, everything changes, and Durren finds himself involuntarily thrust into an exchange program to the Shadow Mountain Academy, alongside Tia, Arein, and Hule. It isn’t going to be like anything they have ever experienced before and the roles they have assumed will get replaced pretty quickly. Can they adjust to the new world and can they meet the challenges that lie ahead?

David Tallerman takes readers into a unique magical world, a world with its own rules, and introduces them to characters that they will love. There is quite a lot to entice readers and get them utterly engaged. First off, the setting is gorgeous and it comes out neatly in the narrative and readers will enjoy the strong imagery and the colorful descriptions of places. The characters are solid, each well-thought out and crafted to feel like one’s next door neighbor, but they aren’t ordinary characters. The conflict is strong and it develops at multiple levels. The sudden change in the lives of the key characters is a catalyst that drives the conflict and the author handles this brilliantly. The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange is an interesting entry in the series, a book to keep fans of fantasy completely engrossed in the read.

Grant Leishman

Durren Flintrand and his three questing team members - Tia, Arein, and Hule - have just been promoted to Level Two in their studies at Black River Academy. In The Ursvaal Exchange: Book 2 in The Black River Chronicles, by David Tallerman, their reward has come for unmasking and defeating a creature thought wiped out centuries ago – a shapeshifter. Rather than basking in the glory of their achievement, the team finds themselves unceremoniously transferred to a sister school, Shadow Mountain Academy, on a student exchange, where they quickly discover things are run very differently at this academy. Why were they transferred and what secrets is Tia holding out on her friends with? Durren realizes the mysterious and unpredictable Tia is acting even stranger than usual, but he’s loath to broach the subject, knowing her quick temper and sometimes violent nature. What is the secret of Ursvaal and what can the quartet do to solve the problems facing the region?

Described as a Young Adult adventure, The Ursvaal Exchange: The Black River Chronicles is a fast-paced story that never lets the reader take a breath, as the characters move from one exciting encounter to the next. I think this book may also be described as an RPG (Role Playing Game) story and although I’ve never been a great gamer, even I could recognize the standard RPG characters; Durren (The Hunter/Scout), Arein (The Mage/Wizard/Healer), Hule (The Fighter/Brute) and Tia (The clever rogue or scoundrel, whom nobody really knows what she is capable of), as well, of course, as that of the Big Boss, who must be defeated at the end of the game. I think this book would appeal greatly to those interested in fantasy adventures. The characters are well defined and the action fast and furious. Certainly, I found the story impossible to put down and it kept me turning pages well into the night. An excellent novel and one that is clearly the basis for a series involving these young students. Highly recommended!

Ruffina Oserio

The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange is the second entry in the Black River Academy series by David Tallerman, a terrific story with extraordinary characters. Readers follow student ranger Durren Flintrand and his mates as they receive the greatest surprise of their days at the Black River Academy for Swordcraft and Spellcraft — they are enlisted for the first ever exchange program at the Shadow Mountain Academy. The place they are going to is the dismal and soggy land of Ursvaal. They have no choice, but as they set out for a new and unique experience, they aren’t prepared for the challenges as their roles change and as they meet weird characters who are hard to trust. Follow these characters as they evolve in an unforgiving terrain and as they forge new alliances. Can they complete this program without losing touch with who they really are?

Well-written and featuring characters that readers will stick with, The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange is gripping, a story with a great and original plot concept. Readers will enjoy how the author handles the conflict. Durren Flintrand and Tia Locke are my favorite characters and from the moment they uncover the horrifying secret in the dungeons beneath the school, I became keen on following their path. The setting is good, imagined with images and places that fit in well with the kind of plot readers are introduced to. David Tallerman’s prose is beautiful and he weaves powerful and captivating dialogues into the narrative. This fantasy is fast-paced and it invites readers on an adventure that contains surprising moments. It was a great read for me.

Jessica Barbosa

The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange by David Tallerman centers once more around the adventures of Durren, Hule, Arein, and Tia who find themselves transferred temporarily to Shadow Mountain Academy, a place where teachings were different from what they were used to. Everyone in the academy seemed wary of them and Durren couldn't help but think that maybe the transfer was more of a punishment rather than a chance to learn something new from this formidable and inhospitable academy. Still, the unfriendly people are the least of his problems, and with Tia acting strangely and hiding things from them, Hule adapting quickly to his new role as a paladin, and Arein's contentions with the clerics of the academy regarding the unbalance, Durren has his hands full. Unfortunately for him, it's just the start of their troubles at the Ursvaal's Shadow Academy as a new enemy arises and they find themselves in more danger than they know what to do with.

The fact that I'm caught up with so many emotions regarding this book - from frustration, to happiness, to exasperation and excitement - can clearly tell you how much I loved it. Words are not enough to express how brilliantly and superbly this was written! Tallerman's The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange is everything you could want in an adventure fantasy tale. The writer's imagination and creativity have great potential; he plunges the reader into a path of exciting adventures where I couldn't help but read in anticipation as the protagonists struggle to either follow the rules or do what they think is right, regardless of the consequences and punishment. I found myself cheering the protagonists on as they navigated their new surroundings warily and fought for what they believed. I was enthralled, and it was easy to lose myself in the pages, the pacing, and in the characters' developments throughout. Even their mistakes and close calls had me eagerly flipping the pages to see how they fared in the end. The plot was engaging and I was so engrossed that it was hard to put the book down. I find myself looking forward to the next book as this one definitely left me wanting more!

Melinda Hills

Being celebrities due to their success on their quests in Book One doesn’t help Durren and his friends much in Book Two of the Black River Academy series, The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange by David Tallerman. When Tia, the secretive Rogue of the party, uncovers a secret in the deepest dungeons of the Black River Academy, Durren, Arein and Hule are drawn into a new adventure that provides many surprises as well as deadly challenges.

Head Tutor Borgnin sends the four friends to the Shadow Mountain Academy in the harsh land of Ursvaal as exchange students where they are received with extreme suspicion by Head Tutor Krieg and all the students. Not realizing just how differently the schools are run, Durren and the group are quickly in the Head Tutor’s sights for not following directions specifically, even though their actions end up saving the lives of another group of Shadow Mountain students. Reluctantly, Caille is forced to join Durren’s party until his other party members have recuperated. At least Caille learns that there may be other ways to accomplish things so when the going gets really rough for Durren, Tia, Arein and Hule, he is there to provide some help. Whether or not that help is what they really need is the question as the group faces the strongest magic the land has ever seen. Will a group of Level Two students be up to the challenge?

David Tallerman has created another magical story full of action and emotion in The Black River Chronicles: The Ursvaal Exchange. When pushed to their limits, each of the students discovers that they have a little bit more to give and that provides a great lesson to younger readers. The story moves steadily, keeping you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see how the students will survive against overwhelming odds. The Ursvaal Exchange is a great story bound to engage virtually any reader. Full of interest-grabbing action to engage even the most reluctant reader! Wonderfully done!