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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Chronicles of Arcanilius: The Origin Stories by Antonia Rapheal finds Naherna on a journey as the new Representative to the scribes. As the wizard Wadzviler rises in power, Naherna embarks on her first mission, which sends her traveling to the Ziggurat of Kir. She appoints herself a team that includes a tracker, a knight, a wizard, a warlock, and a loyal aide. Along the journey, the group faces dragons, mammoths, and a wide assortment of creatures. In the background of the story, the history of this magical place and a prophecy slowly unfold, telling of the arrival of the Malefic.
I loved every second getting to explore every moment of this magical, in-depth, and vivid world. Antonia Rapheal mixes several elements together, including mammoths, dragons, elves, and wizards. The world feels like a lovely combination of fantasy, fairy tales, and science fiction which makes for one spell-binding journey. Rapheal makes all these elements fit together like they were always supposed to go together. You never know what to expect as one moment there's a dragon and another moment involves a magic mirror. This is a hero's journey as Naherna is constantly having to prove herself, which factors into how easy she is to relate to. Every step unlocks something new about the world and it's often something she needs to go up against. In several ways she's just a normal young woman who just happens to have been given this quest and has the weight of the world placed on her shoulders. Over the course of the story, she slowly comes into her own and proves herself to be heroic. It feels like a series of smaller quests that all tie together in this larger adventure.
The humor throughout is fitted to the characters' personalities. Naherna and her group form a close relationship with all their personalities balancing out. Her brother and Zephyr start off clashing, but their relationship evolves into one of friendship which mirrors how close they all become. The characters evolve along the journey both as a team and as individuals. A touch of romance can be found throughout for certain characters, but it's mainly in the background and more of an emotional mention. The actual journey and fight against evil is the focus of the story with a lot of action and an exploration of the world itself as Rapheal introduces several elements each step of the way to round out the world. The Chronicles of Arcanilius is a hero's journey filled with magic and danger, mammoths and dragons, and the fight against evil.