Warden's Reign

A Young Adult Fantasy Adventure (Essence of Ohr Book 1)

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
313 Pages
Reviewed on 02/23/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Parris lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband and two golden retrievers. She discovered her love for reading when a middle school reading assignment led her to the fantasy section of the library. This passion sparked stories of her own imagination, yet she never put pen to paper until after college. When she's not consumed in her writing, she enjoys Olympic weightlifting, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and coaching color guard.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite

Ohr is beset with dangers: a wall of magical flames slowly consumes the land and the tyrannical Warden Savairo’s obsession with blood magic has brought the populace to its knees. Escapees from the capital city have found refuge in Solpate Forest, a place where the trees walk and the animals are covered in bark and petals instead of fur or feathers. Kole is an apprentice Shepherd, trained to ride the rambling trees, whose eagerness to earn his title from Master Russé instead leads Kole to a peril advancing on the refugee camp he calls home. Kole and everyone he cares about abandon their camp and flee, but on their journey south a new danger emerges: A kayetan—one of the creatures spawned from Savairo’s experiments with dark magic—is loose in the forest, hunting for refugees.

Parris Sheets’ YA epic fantasy, Warden’s Reign, kicks off the Essence of Ohr series by drawing readers into a richly imagined world of walking trees, imprisoned gods, and the corruption of dark magic. Kole has a complicated relationship with his mentor, Russé, and camp leader, Goren, which is further aggravated by the discovery that they’ve been keeping secrets from him. These frictions add intrigue while Kole’s proud determination to prove himself introduces an element of excitement as the kayetan stalks the refugees through Solpate Forest. A layered world mythology folds into the gripping plot, and disaster forces the refugees to make a decision that will decide their future. Unique, imaginative, and well-crafted world-building and a plot rife with danger and startling discoveries make for addictive reading.

Scott Cahan

Warden’s Reign by Parris Sheets is the first book in a fantasy adventure series called Essence of Ohr. An evil force is kidnapping orphans and townsfolk and using them to create evil beings called kayetans. There is also a killer wall that is moving through the land, consuming everyone and everything in its path. The hero of the story is a fifteen-year-old boy named Kole. Although he has been training to be a protector of his people, the sudden evil goings-on leave Kole badly injured and doubtful of his abilities. Eventually, he meets up with a small resistance group and decides to help them defeat the evil Savairo and his kayetans. Along the way, Kole finds out about secrets from his past that make him more special than he ever realized.

Warden’s Reign is an exciting beginning to what promises to be an action-packed fantasy series. I was reminded a little of The Lord of the Rings story with the forces of good trying to hold back the forces of evil, even though the good guys seem to be greatly outmatched. It’s also set in a world that reminded me of Middle-Earth. There are no hobbits or elves in Parris Sheets’s story, but there are peace-loving humans with vast cultural differences joining together to do battle. On the other side is an evil human playing with the powers of the gods and using them for destructive purposes. Despite my comparison to LOTR, Warden’s Reign is actually very original and extremely imaginative. My favorite element of the story was the giant walking trees called Ramblers. Fans of fast-paced fantasy adventures will enjoy reading Warden’s Reign and the rest of the Essence of Ohr series.

Lit Amri

"He had only tried to save them. He’d never sought to play the hero; he just didn’t want anyone to die. Now everyone was at risk. What had he done? Oh, for the love of Souls, what had he done?" Fifteen-year-old Kole is an apprentice who yearns to earn his place as a shepherd of the rambling trees. He's one of the orphaned refugees who hid in the Solpate forest from Savairo, the Warden of Socren, and his dark creatures, the Kayetans. Unfortunately, Kole and the others lost their camp when a Kayetan discovered their hideout. After years of safe haven, will they survive the onslaught? Warden’s Reign is the first book of Essence of Ohr, a YA fantasy series by Parris Sheets.

The worldbuilding is intricate, strange but compelling, drawing fantasy elements into its own cohesive and engaging lore. Secrets of the past become the key to the tyranny of the enemies. The moving trees, or the ramblers, and the gods of the realm known as the Souls add a mythical and fantastical charm to the story. The plot is well-developed, full of dark thrills, adrenaline-pumping moments, and heavy emotions of the characters who have been through so much but courageously strive to survive and win. Kole doesn’t remember his family or his past, giving the young protagonist a fascinating sense of mystery. A flawed, sometimes impatient but determined fighter, it’s easy to empathize with Kole as his guilt is a great burden to him. The antagonist, the Kayetan called Idris, is a frightening and manipulating creature. His dialogue alone is enough to project his malicious nature and the dark desire of his masters. With twists, loss, revenge, and a quest for peace and freedom, Warden’s Reign hits all the right notes not just for YA readers but older fantasy fans as well.