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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 21 May 2017
This is the third instalment of the Sanctuary series, and it is the strongest book so far. Great! The plot itself is more noble, and we are starting to scratch beneath the surface of this world that has been created. This is a meatier book than the previous two, and perhaps a little fatty too, but it develops nicely and leads us tantalisingly into the rest of the series.

This is the third book in the Sanctuary series by Robert J Crane, following on from Defender and Avenger. In this instalment, Cyrus embarks on a mission to return Vara to her hometown and save her from an order of assassins. However, once in Termina, the war raging throughout Arkaria gets too close for comfort, and the league of assassins are still at large. And what is the best thing about all this chaos? It brings Vara and Cyrus closer together. Finally.

So, what are the highlights for me? Well, here’s what I liked best.

In this book, we start to see something of a noble challenge associated with our guild, which is nice. In books one and two, it is almost entirely acquisition-related, but here we have some substance to the action which draws us in. We have a cause to really get behind, which pulls us on.

And the other thing that pulls us on is the development of the wider plot points. There are some interesting questions that are answered in this book, but there are still many left hanging, which invariable encourages us on. Great! And we also have steady convergence between the ‘now’ and ‘then’ parts of the book, which are pretty compelling. We have a glimpse of the future, and we want to find out how it happened.

The other great thing about this book is the range of characters, and in particular, some of the personalities. There is some good banter between Sanctuary members, and my particular favourites are Fortin; Vaste; Aisling; and Vara’s mother! Very entertaining.

Unfortunately, Vara, as a lead character, is still a bit morose even though she’s being prised from her shell, and Cyrus is still a bit goody two-shoes for my liking. But the wide and entertaining cast make up for this.

And finally, overall this just feels a step up from books one and two as a piece of writing. There was nothing obviously jarring here and it all hung together pretty well. It’s great to see the writing develop throughout the series.

That being said, there does appear to be a large focus on direct internal dialogue (the stuff in italics) compared to the previous two books (I confess I haven’t gone back and checked!) This is good for emphasis in places, but it feels a bit much in this book, and the placement is sometimes a bit off. It feels at times a bit like you’re being shaken between first and third person, and this is distracting. It should melt seamlessly.

The other thing about this book is that it’s pretty long, and I think much longer than the previous two. I would say there is more to it, but it feels like it’s gone a bit overweight rather than catching just the right balance. There are passages of internal and descriptive sections which just feel heavy and in some cases unnecessary, and these slow the pace of a fast story. Overall though, this is a relatively minor point.

Finally we have the fighting. It still feels distinctly video-game-like, with, at one point, three versus a lot more than three and yet the three come out on top. It’s well placed by the author, supplemented by magical armour, sorcerers, reincarnation spells (the lot) but it does rather make me sigh. Then again, this is the third book and I’ve read this far, so it can’t annoy me that much. This video game style fighting is what the book is going for, so it’s okay in that regard, but I think it removes some of the tension from the story.

Interestingly, the next edition is taking place in a human ‘exclusive-of-magic’ part of the world which will be a deviation, but our crew are taking magic with them so I fully envisage the same quantity of RPG-esque carnage!

Overall I think this series is developing nicely, and this instalment is definitely the strongest so far. I don’t think this will ever be a perfect fit for me, but there are some interesting plot points developing and I intend to read on.
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on 30 November 2014
another great read, this series is so good!
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This series has come a long way since I read the first two books
Defender: The Sanctuary Series, Volume One andAvenger: 2 (Sanctuary).
In this third part it becomes evident how the authors writing has evolved, his storytelling is more grounded and the plots flow really well.
Indeed the beginning of this book we are taken back to events that transpire six years before. Although an epic fantasy, which hosts trolls, elves and rock giants, the author keeps it grounded and more believable rather than fantastical. It depicts battles, portals and assassins in a way that almost makes it feel like an alternate reality.
Cyrus and Vara take a step closer towards each other and we learn more about the identity and secrets of Vara that are known amongst her kind, but not to outsiders.
What I like most about this series is how the author shows us the strengths of friendship and companionship without the use of intimate relationships. Between warriors, strangers, enemies, different races and gender.
How we can know someone for a long time without ever knowing how they truly feel or what they hide in their past or in their hearts.
I received a free copy of this book for my review.
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on 17 December 2013
Just read number 4 and would give that 5 stars; my only hesitation with it is the bits at the beginning and the end that suggest everyone is dead and what is the point in any of it. A great range of characters that develop nicely and a nice range of abilities, life-forces etc.

The author said he would struggle to keep it going but it is well worth it and a much more worthwhile project than Girl in a box which seems to be more formulaic and do things for the sake of twists as you would expect in the best TV B-movie mini-series.
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on 18 July 2015
Champion -Book 3 is The Sanctuary series was a really good read, the books get better and better
In book three we see a slight different change in Sanctuary's purpose.Pillaging for treasures and riches are a lower priority in book three and the guild finds themselves moving to protect guild members.
Vara is in trouble and with wars are all around Cy finds himself leading from the front with honor (don't want to give you any spoilers).
And as for the relationship dance between Cy and Vara well I'm not going to spoil that either.....
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on 19 December 2013
It's so easy in this day an age to find yourself reading trash, because it was cheap and because now you've got it you might as well read it. Crane is such a refreshing change from this habit I've fallen into recently. Not only did I notice very few typos (always a welcome change) but I genuinely care for these characters in such a way that when I'm not reading I feel bad because they're stuck somewhere they might get hurt! A really engaging, well written series, I cannot recommend it highly enough!
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on 1 October 2013
this series gets better and better despite starting really well! I have loved it so far. one of the few series I just cant stop picking the book up to find out what happens next. really likeable engaging characters with really good plots and story lines too. fully recommend you give them a try, and feel it very unlikely you will feel disappointed. book 1 is free for goodness sake!
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on 21 July 2013
This is the third book of this series I have read and it just keeps getting better. Move over Lord of The Rings, in my opinion these are so much more exciting and enjoyable.
The characters are so alive, a whole new world just opens up and you become a part of it.
I couldn't put these books down. I love them. Now I'm off to find volume Four.
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on 17 February 2013
This man is a great story teller. He had me gripped from the start. Each character leaps from the page fully formed and I can't put the darn book down - I keep getting up later in the morning and going to bed late at night. I know I'm not alone in this behaviour I couldn't wait for the next instalment - just wonderful to read something so good - well done RJC.
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on 11 July 2014
I am a big fan of Eddings, Feist, Tolkien and many more besides. I have read many howlers in my time and I can honestly say this series is one that will make it onto my bookshelf. Bravo Robert J Crane if you continue to write like this I will be a life long fan, keep it up mate.
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