on 11 October 2012
When you miss your station on the daily commute because you've got your head totally buried in your Kindle, you know the book you're reading is a good one. With its bitesize chapters, inventive ideas, easy-to-read prose and flowing storyline, Enchantress is such a book, and I can highly recommend it.
Sometimes fantasy books can be a bit of a slog (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, I loved you, but yeah, I'm looking at you). Enchantress isn't one of them; the style is more like early Raymond Feist than Shakespeare, and it's all the better for it. Instead of unnessarily long sentences and pages of meandering text, you get a very readable mix of brilliantly inventive ideas, believable characters and a storyline that takes in all sorts of fantasy stalwarts, from quests and battles to woodland folk and murky cityscapes. This is also one of the first fantasy books I've read that contains believable sex scenes; at last, a fantasy author who sounds like he's actually tried it. Bravo! :-)
The book's real strength is the way all the ideas fit together to produce a convincing and immersive world. The book's concept of magic (or 'lore' as it's called) is a great device for generating plot twists, and merging the battle scenes with lore in the form of bladesingers, animators, enchanters and elementalists makes for entertaining reading. Indeed, lore threads its way through the entire plot, from the lethal effects of essence, to the relationship between lore, lexicons and the evil plot at the centre of the book. As you read on, you discover more and more about this well-crafted world, and it's enchanting stuff, if you'll pardon the pun.
I also loved the little quotes at the start of each chapter (all 73 of them!). They range from historical quotes to pearls of wisdom, and while in some books this kind of writing device can be a little irritating and bit twee, I thought they really added to the atmosphere of this one. In particular, the quotes from the Marco-Polo-esque Toro Marossa are great, and even though Marossa isn't mentioned in the book itself, I found myself rather liking the man - and all that from a few snippets of commentary at the start of a handful of chapters. It's all very clever, and it's the myriad little touches like this that make the world of Enchantress so believable.
[Edit: The latest version of the book addresses most of the issues I mention in the next paragraph - there is now an excellent map at the start of the book, and the typos have been cleaned up. It's good to see that the author responds to feedback - bravo.]
If I'm going to nit-pick, I did get lost trying to work out the geography of the world. When setting the scenes for the war that grumbles to life in the first third of the book, I got totally confused about which house was fighting which, and whose borders were to the north of the forts that seemed to be to the west of the... oh never mind. In the end I gave up trying to picture the world's layout and just went with the flow, and although it didn't affect my enjoyment one bit, I did find myself hankering for a map. The Table of Contents is also next to useless, only containing links to the Prologue and Epilogue, and typographically there are some small hiccups (hyphens and en-dashes get a bit mixed up every now and then, and there's the odd wonky apostrophe and incorrect word that the spellchecker clearly got wrong). But this really is me being picky, as trivial things like this disappear in a puff of lore when faced with such a great story.
Like others here, I'm looking forward to the sequel, as the book finishes a little too abruptly and leaves a number of quesions unanswered. Which is the point, I suppose; this is Book One of a Saga, and you've got to leave the reader wanting more... which I do.
Bring on Book Two, I say. Highly recommended.
on 11 August 2014
I bought this book while looking for another series to rival Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. It's almost too much to say, but yes I think the Evermen Saga rates up there with the best fantasy books ever written. If you haven't discovered James Maxwell yet, then you're in for a treat. A word of caution: the first third of the book "Enchantress" is a bit slow, and sometimes reads like teenager fantasy fiction (it overstates the emotions, without enough subtly or nuance), but stick with it because I promise that once you're into it, the pace picks up, as does the quality and you're in for an amazing read. I was so hooked, that I'm now on book 3 in as many days.
What makes this series spectacular is the depth and richness of the world that James Maxwell has created. The different 'Houses' in this new world each have a different culture, geography and way of using magic. "Essence" (like our oil) is essential for the magic to work, and the great war between the nations is won and lost through the boldness, ingenuity and courage of those who use essence, but also those who know how to fight without it. The characters are brilliant, and compared to GoT the pace is quicker and much better.
My only advice - don't make the mistake that I did, and download all the others books in one in go, and then start reading the blurb. The product description for books 3 and 4 basically contain spoilers which ruined the plot for me as they told me key information that had happened in the previous books. James Maxwell, if you're reading this, please change the blurb so as not to spoil it for the readers!
on 2 March 2016
Despite reading a lot of Fantasy I've managed to miss most of the real rubbish out there due to engaging in a little bit of research before purchasing, and normally that works, normally. Not in this case though, and for that I blame the reviews on here; how anyone can compare this book to any of the great works of the Fantasy genre is beyond me. I'll not say the series as I've no intention of buying any more.
Not only does Enchantress read like a book written for children suffering from ADD, but if you were to produce a tick list of all the Fantasy genre cliches then you would have probably pretty much have rewritten this book - except for dragons, somehow they were missed out. I wouldn't be surprised though to see them turn up later. I actually considered giving up about 40% of the way in then had another look at the Amazon reviews just to check I'd not hallucinated the first time, nope there they were, brimming over with praise. Odd. One review though did say that the first third of the book was pretty dire but the rest was worth the pain, so I decided to soldier on. Well that review was partly right, yes the first third is dire, but so are the other two, to the point where I cannot genuinely think of one redeeming quality that Encantress has, not one.
As mentioned its a trip to Cliche World where we have the orphans of the great hero of yesteryear raised in a shack in the woods, and of course totally unaware of their noble birth. Naturally she is beautiful and he is handsome, and naturally both excel so beyond expectations as to leave them way behind with their mouths hanging open. She is a enchantress of unique talent, while he is a great gardner and odd job man about the village, just kidding he's a warrior of course, and what a warrior. Did I mention they were both stunningly attractive and popular, good and wise? I did? Don't you just hate their guts already?
I could live with the above though if the characters had some flesh on their bones, but they are literary skeletons bereft of substance. They fly from one event to the next, barely pausing for breath as they scale their career ladders at a blistering pace, and the trials and tribulations that could've provided some filling out are simply completely skipped over. Ella graduates from Hogwarts after something like 2 pages after entering, while Miro lucks into the role of a guard one chapter and by the next he's Grand Marshall OverLord of the Combined Armies of Everyone by the beginning of the next. Every time he walks out his bedroom he returns to find a new uniform and a massive promotion, which of course he greets with a shug and few hours in front of the mirror.
I guess there was some effort to make the Bad Guy a bit less of a cliche but not much of one. The Primate is about as bad as you get, I mean a complete stereotype swine with nary a redeeming feature, and of course his involvement with the ill fortune that befell Ella and Miro's parents is about as unexpected as rain in March. Oh and this is another fault of this book, predictability. Everything is sign posted long before it actually happens, and you can then pretty much just skip the pages and get to the event as everything in between are space fillers. When Killian wanders around the palace with a breathless Ella on his arm he could have waved a large flag with "I'm going to rob this place" written on it. Similarly when Ella sets out to track the fleeing perp down there's an inevitability about the outcome that still manages to kill a little bit of the soul.
Everything else in this book is just as cliched as the aforementioned, and then there's the battle scenes which quite frankly are the worst I have ever encountered in any Fantasy novel. Ok its Fantasy, but come on, even a nod in the direction of the reality of warfare would have been welcome. In Enchantress armies run all over the place, consider tactics are for jessies and just charge each other head on, and you really have to wonder just why a lot of the soldiers even turn up. Considering the carnage inflicted by animated rune-covered monstrosities, dirgibles, mortars, and all those smug types in enchanted armour waving enchanted swords, signing up to volunteer is pretty much just a way of signing a suicide note. Sometimes the desire of Fantasy authors to top all previous authors when it comes to battlefield invention leaves the whole concept so overblown as to lack any credibility, and this book attempts to go much further than others.
I'd really like to say something positive about Enchantress but I can't. Its two dimensional, cliched, bereft of substance and the characters so unlikely as to defy any attempt at empathy. I gave it two stars as I don't hate it, I just wish I'd never wasted the time it took to read it.
on 4 January 2013
I purchased this book after reading reviews and for less than a pound I honestly never expected much from it. I was however astonished when it turned from a cheap book to pass the time into one of the best books I've read in a long time. It has everything from a mystery surrounding orphaned children it turns to a fantasy thriller. I couldn't put this book down as I had to know what happened to each of the characters. This book draws you in from the very beginning and has you hooked, I'm off now to buy the sequel .
on 24 October 2014
Enchantress is an epic adventure on a scale beyond that of the pages it is confined to.
The writing style isn't perfect and some of the characters are a little cliché but the story is an absolute blast.
Maxwell opens the door to a sprawling world of endless possibilities that leaves the reader asking "what if..." and craving the next instalment. This book is a must for fans of Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings type fantasy.
I was almost put off by the feminine cover/title and the blurb hinting romance but I'm so glad I gave it a chance as this is in no means the tacky tween romp I feared it could be.
on 31 July 2012
Enchantress by James Maxwell is a fantastic romp through a mystical land full of an evil emperor, magical enchanters and fantastical soldiers called "the bland singers". First let me be honest I do not think that the synopsis pf the novel does much in explaining the sheer depth of the novel. By reading the synopsis, you instantly know about Killian and of course Ella. You might be forgiven in having misjudged the story, as I myself did, that it will be a romance hidden by a fantasy element. However, the romance is only a small part of this multi-faceted novel. I was impressed with the way that each character stands alone, each character has strength, a weakness and a point to further the plot and yet each intricately involved with the other.
I am going to be honest. The only reason I downloaded this book was that it was free. That was the only reason and I am glad I did it. This is one of the hidden gems in the kindle e-book world. At the beginning of the book, you are introduced to Ella as only the flower girl who dreams of being an enchantress, then the story starts to evolve, and blossom as her friend the wife of the high lord is found dead and murmurs of war start to surface.
The plot follows Miro, her brother who dreams of being a blade singer, as he fights the war, gaining land, being tested and losing a friend due to not letting die (in a round a bout way). You cheer as he wins and your heart aches, as he loves a girl who has had to marry and as he faces the true horrors of war and that, it is not as glamorous being a blade singer as he first came to believe. The other plot is that of Ella. A girl who is blossoming into a beauty who has an amazing ability with enchantments who falls for the thief Killian which causes a book, the powerful artefact of their race, to be stolen and for Ella along with a girl called Layla from a different race that does not like Ella's kind to track him down and get the book back.
It is very well written and each character has both strengths and flaws that make you angry with them, or annoyed. I do not think of this as bad. One flaw of Ella's her sheer inability to deal with what she did wrong and so to go into a sort of coma is annoying, you want her to grow some balls and face up to things. However, it adds to her character it adds to the realism.
There is only one small quirk that sometimes bugs me and it is the way that sometimes it jumps from p.o.v per each chapter. One minute it is Ella; the next Miro. It does not distract from the overall spectacular story telling but with the amount of characters and some of the highly unpronounceable names can make things a little confusing. In the book, James Maxwell tries to explain the house system, the lands and who does what. He tries to show how vast the world is but sometimes, in my opinion, makes the reader get a little lost before finding their way back again. However, this does not affect the story or the sheer enjoyment I found from reading this book.
That is why I would definitely recommend this book. It takes you away from the humdrum of every day life and takes you on an adventure that seems so realistic you can identify with it. This is definitely a book that makes me want to read more, to see what happens next and if the characters grow anymore.
on 20 February 2015
In a setting which seems to owe much to Raymond E. Feist we encounter our protagonists, a brother & sister. The sister sets off to become the eponymous enchantress. Despite this apparently requiring some intelligence she totally fails to register the plot "twists" which are so obvious one imagines that the author must, surely, take the story in a different direction from the obvious - one would be wrong.
The brother becomes a soldier (curious how these societies which follow magic are always so relentlessly traditional) of, unsurprisingly, great talent. Of course there is war & lots of battles for him to demonstrate his ability & ultimately to rise to his birthright.
And, really, that's about it! There's a "secret" about their parentage which any reader will work out in the first few chapters but mostly I found it hard to care. The number of stars that I was prepared to give reduced as I read on. This is the first in a series. So what happens next? I can't be bothered to find out!
on 27 October 2015
Sometimes it's hard to say why you don't like something. It's what makes each person individual. Having sat here for 30 minutes I think it boils down to the magic system and the main characters being neither bad or good.
I really enjoyed James writing style and the whole world was wonderful. There were many fantastic scenes that had me grinning with exhilaration from the story coming out in the words. I can remember a lot of these scenes vividly weeks after finishing it. Sexual scenes were delving, but not perverted. Descriptions were good, but not over the top with detail. The people were relate able, you could actually imagine meeting a lot of these people. So I loved reading it, but only have it 3 stars?
Read 'the painted man' The magic system although not the same feels quite similar and that's probably like saying Harry potters magic is a clone of every other magic... ever. Let's say 'The discworld series'. I was somewhat tainted by the painted man in that it started off really well and then turned to rubbish in the next books. I'll mention that even then I didn't really like that style of magic. I'm more of a point a finger, mumble some words and fire kinda guy and as much as I tried to like it in Enchantress I kept wishing someone would pick up a staff and blast a fire ball at someone. I've also been tainted by Game of thrones a story that hacked and smashed it's way through three great books turning into travel diaries with no story momentum. Others ague that Lord of the rings is just a walking diary of same & frodo
Enchantress is not a bad read and I would recommend trying it. This type of magic system won't suit everyone and that's OK. The writing is refreshing and for the most part many of the story ideas are good with fun twists and turns.
If this is your first venture into the fantasy genre then I am sure you will love it.
on 18 August 2015
I took a chance on this book and author and I'm glad that I did.
The basic premise of the magic in this book is completely different to any other that I have read which instantly makes for a refreshing change on the fantasy genre.
The story dives straight into the climax of a character's life and follows her as she desperately tries to achieve a task. We have no idea what the task is or why it's so important to her.
We are then introduced to another character who is instantly believable and likeable. In fact, each character is described with a touch of finesse that is rarely seen in new authors, with just a few lines I was able to imagine and empathise with the characters.
The story progress on several fronts, skipping from one character to another in an easy and sure manner. The different facets of the story intertwine nicely and don't feel forced. This was apparent to me when the story progressed several years very suddenly and I didn't feel like anything had been omitted, very clever writing.
There is the obligatory journey for the main character to have their eyes opened but once again this is handled well and the journey takes quite a while to happen and the enlightenment doesn't happen all at once
I say the main character but actually there are several main characters. The story follows several people on and off, if you think you won't see a particular character again don't be too sure, this author is full of surprises!
Overall I feel that this book is a great introduction to a new world of magic and fantasy. The overall story flows well although some parts are a little predictable one you get into the story. The places and people are well described and it is well set up for the next book.
I think this is an author to watch out for.
on 23 March 2013
Since this Kindle book was free I think the author deserves a review in return. Overall, and especially given that it's a self-published (plus Amazon) effort, and a first novel, I have to say that James Maxwell has done an excellent job. Enchantress is more enjoyable than many books by signed authors.
There are some caveats, but nothing too bad. I felt that some of the writing, especially the dialogue, in the first half was a little perfunctory and stilted, but as the story picked up pace, the author seemed to find his flow and that reservation melted away. There are also very occasional typos, but they're very few and far between, perhaps one every forty pages or so, to hazard a guess. A publishing house would probably have weeded them out. However, this is to be very picky: the typos are very minor, scarcely disrupt the flow and, to be fair, it is very, very hard to pull out every single typing error. To have got it down to such an insignificant level is a job very well done.
Other than that, the story is easy to read and follow (it's not Steven Erikson), by-and-large suitable for teenagers onwards (it would probably get a 15 rating if it were a film) and builds to a suitably dramatic climax. It would make a good holiday read. The system of magic is based on runes and a substance called 'essence', and it's cogent, integral to the story and used to good effect. The premiss is established early on and the story follows that through. It's very well plotted and the pacing is spot on: plot-threads diverge and come together again with aplomb. It's definitely one of James Maxwell's strengths. There's a range of cultures and the world hangs together well. World-building is another strength. The general tone of the novel reminds me of Adrian Tchaikovsky, if that's any help to would-be readers.
In summary, James Maxwell has the potential to be a very successful, popular fantasy author. This is a very accomplished first novel and, if you like the genre, you will probably find it an enjoyable romp through a well-constructed world. It's better than many novels from signed authors and fully deserving of all the positive reviews.