The Trials of the Black Tower

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
440 Pages
Reviewed on 03/08/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Trials of the Black Tower by Joseph S. Andrew is the first book in The Storm Blood Records epic fantasy series. The story follows Varion, an orphaned man who had never ventured out of Lyisien village where he grew up and trained under the watchful eyes of his mentor Gale. However, his world is turned upside down when Gale shares a long-kept secret. Before he knows it, Varion is packing his bags and leaving the only home he has ever known. Gale provides him with two options; to live in hiding forever without his real identity, or become the Warrior of the Black. It is the only option befitting his bloodline and the only way for Varion to exact revenge. Will Varion choose the easy path or the path of a Warrior of the Black? Is he ready for the new challenges?

The story is divided into two parts and each part focuses on Varion’s various levels of character development. Joseph S. Andrew wrote this story smartly and with intent. Varion is a well-thought-out and well-constructed character who has a clear path ahead of him, even if the decisions are hard to make. His relationship with Gale is his anchor, and Gale loves Varion. However, it is Varion’s journey to discover himself and learn to become the warrior he was always meant to be. I wasn’t expecting the story to be so packed with emotions. I was expecting high-intensity action and plenty of political tension, but not the turmoil of emotions that seemed to rage in Varion’s mind and body. The world-building is incredible, and the adventure runs high in the second part of the story. I was excited to read the next chapter and see what would happen next. It is a series to look out for because it has the potential to be one of the best epic fantasies of the year.

Delene Vrey

The Trials of the Black Tower by Joseph S. Andrew tells the story of Varion. An orphan raised by Gale, a traveling merchant, Varion has been training to fight and studying books that no one else in the village reads. When Gale returns after a long absence, and an unfortunate event occurs, Varion and Gale must leave the village. When Varion decides to follow the route of a Warrior of the Black at the infamous Black Tower, he has no idea of the hardships and trials he would have to face. Apart from the harsh physical training and duels, he must also navigate the politics in the Tower. Even being trained by an elite Warrior of the Black does not prepare Varion for the hate from noble children and the consequences when a conspiracy leaves him as good as dead. When Varion discovers the unimaginable atrocities committed against those who cannot meet the expectations of the Black Tower, he questions the intentions of the man who raised him. From Varion’s suffering, a thing of myth is born – a Storm Blood. What will become of Varion as he faces an uncertain future?

The Trials of the Black Tower by Joseph S. Andrew reminds me of Ender’s Game and some more recent dystopian novels, although it is a fantasy. The story has the orphaned hero and his ambiguous father figure. The hero has to fulfill his guardian’s dark intentions. Those who like sword and sorcery fantasy will enjoy this story which promises to grow into an exciting series. There is much graphic violence and prejudice – as is expected from a good plot. The world of the Black Tower is an imaginative creation, and the world-building and the juxtaposition of politics versus brute strength and weapon expertise are excellent.

Rose L. Geer-Robbins

In The Trials of the Black Tower, the first installment of the Storm Blood Records by Joseph S. Andrew, sacrifices must be made to become a part of the Warrior of the Black. As the most elite warriors in the country, these men and women are selected based on their ability to survive and kill. They are feared for their ruthlessness and respected for their power. But the only way to become one is to climb the Black Tower through a series of tests of brutality and quick thinking. Hundreds will enter, but only fifty will be selected. Varion Tirmithas knows that death or ascension is the only way out of the trials and is fighting for his life. But it will not be easy. Aside from being targeted as an orphan from a poor village, Varion quickly learns he has a price on his head. Will Varion be able to ascend the tower, discover who he is, and save his fellow recruits from the brutality? His survival may depend on it.

The Trials of the Black Tower by Joseph S. Andrew is a captivating action and adventure fantasy with parts of high fantasy. It drew me in from the first page and kept me spellbound until the last. By combining realistic dialogue and descriptions with character development, Andrew's world-building is mesmerizing and made me feel like I was part of the whirlwind action. The multiple storylines showcase diverse motives and personas, causing conflict and drama which kept me guessing about what was to come next. Andrew is a gifted storyteller who weaves this tale to perfection. I look forward to picking up the next installment when it is released.