The Power of the Ascendant

Fiction - Science Fiction
332 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

In The Power of the Ascendant by Van Ris, Phillip, a man with extraordinary powers, is held captive by the Institute for Supernatural Power Investigation (ISPI) after being abducted. Despite his confinement, he forges connections with caregivers like Mary and fellow superhumans like Yoshi. Phillip collaborates with ISPI while scheming his escape, eventually breaking free and meeting Steve Longhorn. Empowered and determined, he trains to master his abilities while navigating threats from Dr. Chand and Slater. Phillip's journey takes him to a hidden valley in Libya, where he integrates into the Tuareg community and uses his gifts to aid them. As dangers escalate, including confrontations with bandits and a malevolent entity called the Vampire, Phillip remains resolute in his mission to protect the vulnerable, even at the risk of his own life, and in the throes of a potential global conflict.

Van Ris blends the elements of ethical dilemmas and themes of redemption in the richly built world of The Power of the Ascendant. Phillip's journey from reluctance to acceptance of his supernatural abilities is portrayed with depth, particularly through his evolving relationships with different characters as the story progresses. I liked that Phillip's conflict shows the responsibility that comes with power, and his self-discovery is marked through his transformative encounters. The world-building is immersive, with diverse settings that span the globe, as well as piercing the veil between this world and the next. I thought Van Ris did well in breaking the story up into parts, and each almost read as a series of vignettes. Phillip's ability to transport, and the powers he strengthens as an Ascendant along the way, do not diminish his relatability as a human, which Van Ris nails in this novel of supernatural intrigue and human drama that keeps the pages turning.