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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Magicians of Ysavar by Z.B. Lee is the first book in a new series. Johan Finley has always dreamed of being a Guardian for Center City. It's all he's ever wanted. But his inability to work with others costs him everything he had been working toward. His life is flipped upside down when a strange man arrives at his door claiming to be a halfling, that magic exists, and Johan is one of the Called. It gets crazier when Johan is drawn into the Order of Ysavar where he trains to learn magic and embarks on an adventure to retrieve a sword called Blazer now in the hands of the evil Zebub, who has sinister plans in store. His failure to become a Guardian transforms him into the hero he always dreamed of being.
At its heart, this is a story about growth which is seen through how Johan goes from a lone wolf into a hero working with a team. Z.B. Lee weaves a tale with a rich history that dips into a time when all creatures once banded together until too many rivalries caused strife that drove them apart and created the world that Johan lives in. Studying with Pius and Arlo teaches Johan about what it means to be Called and how he needs to answer that call through his whole being, not just words and deeds. His fantastical journey allows him to find other layers to heroism that involve patience, magic, and learning to work with others. His journey is more than a quest. It's about allowing Johan to become a hero by learning to trust something else in himself through the belief of those in the Order that sees more in him and what he's capable of. Magical elements are woven throughout that open Johan's world from an intense focus on becoming a Guardian to epic adventures that involve Redkaps, gnomes, goblins, and the fight of good versus evil. The Magicians of Ysavar is a lighthearted adventure aimed at all ages that has action, magic, and humor that delivers a coming-of-age journey about a hero.