Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire – Exiles of Arcadia #1 – James Gawley
Release date: 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
‘Exiles of Arcadia’ blends history and fantasy to create a world that is as real as the past and as personal as childhood.
Primus Seneca has lived most of his life in exile. Ten years ago his father led an army against the ruthless tyrant Tiberius–and was crushed. Now the general plans his revenge from the snowy heart of the Boreal forest, and sixteen-year-old Primus is eager to join his father’s legion. But once he is sworn in, Primus begins to unravel family secrets that will shake his faith in the cause, his father, and the very nature of the gods.
‘Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire’ is a self-published novella by James Gawley. I have already had multiple good experiences with self-published books, but I have to say, this one is the best by far. It stands out among the others like a beacon on a dark winter night. It’s … really good. It’s more than really good, it’s on par with some of the better fantasy books I’ve read through the years. There’s real promise here and I’m dying to read the rest of the Gawley’s story.
Now the hard thing, how do I write a coherent review about this without simply filling every line with: “I loved it”, “It’s great”, “I want more” and stuff like that? The ones you really like are always the hardest to write about. I didn’t find anything in this novella that I could criticize, or anything I had issues with, everything fit together perfectly for me.
‘Legionnaire’ is beautifully written. James Gawley writes in a wonderful voice and it reads so easily you can just breeze through the whole hundred pages in a couple hours. I liked every minute of this novella and I can only say that I want more!
The story itself is exactly my thing: Historical Fantasy, my two favorite genres (Historical Fiction and Fantasy) mixed together. The names and the way the author describes his world and his characters has a sort of Roman feel to it, but it is distinctly different from the Roman Empire we know in a lot of different ways.
The whole setting gives a bit of a dark vibe, another thing I like in my Fantasy books now and then, and here it was executed perfectly. The sense of tension and threat in the air throughout the novel kept me flipping the pages without noticing any time going by.
We follow Primus, a young men who’s enlisted in the army, his father a general and his mother a stranger he never met. Being in the army, though he is proud of it, isn’t a walk in the park. Everyone seems to know something (bad) about his father, but no one seems to be eager to come clean about it. When Primus gets tangled up in a sticky situation, he has difficulties deciding where his loyalties lie. And whatever choice he makes can have serious consequences.
Primus is a great character, I clicked with him almost immediately. Not in the “caring” kind of way, but more like a total submersion in his story. It felt like I was there, experiencing everything next to Primus. If that’s not good writing, I don’t know what is.
The secondary characters, though more in the background, are very strong too, giving the story the needed extra color.
The novella opens with a very strong, rather heartbreaking scene that sets the tone for the rest of the book. I was totally engrossed from the very beginning. There is never a dull moment, never a moment where the pacing dies down or the story gets tedious. This story was great from the first page to the last. What more can I say, I’ll definitely be reading more from this author and I can recommend this novella to any Fantasy fan. I’d also recommend this to anyone who has doubts about self-published books, because this is seriously the ultimate proof that there are incredible gems to be found there.