By Sang Kromah
There are so many books on my 2018 to-be-read list on Goodreads and I’m proud to say that all of those books are written by female authors. My goal is to read at least one book from that list a week and last week, I completed Mikko Azul’s The Staff of Fire and Bone. I wanted to post my review immediately after completing it, but since today (January 30th) is the book’s publishing birthday, I decided to wait and offer my review as a book birthday gift.
I received an e-book Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of The Staff of Fire and Stone from the publisher, who has made a commitment to publish only women authors in 2018, and I was sucked into Azul’s world much like I was when I read The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones sagas. This is a fantasy novel, but the book’s themes are so relevant that it’s hard not to equate it to current issues. The story follows Cedron, a boy of mixed race who is also the Heir Presumptive to the Regent of Dulnat. It sounds like Cedron is living a charmed life, but that is not the case at all. Because Cedron is of mixed race, he is truly hated in this world where racial purity is treasured, promoted, and preferred. Add in the fact that Cedron has recently come into an insane amount of magical powers and the fact that the part of him that is hated most just maybe what is needed to embrace his destiny to save Muralia and you have the makings of an epic saga.
Azul has the power to make fantastical characters seem relatable. I often found myself comparing character traits to people I know or have encountered before. Not every writer has this gift. Many times when writers create characters for fantasy, they make them so unbelievably unreal that readers have difficulty relating to them or feeling empathy for them. This was not a problem in this novel. The characters are believable, the world-building is incredible, and I can honestly see this book being adapted for film. Muralia is a world that you find yourself loving and hating simultaneously as it’s strange, wonderful, and new, but some of its inhabitants turn you off. That is quickly rectified as Cedron meets new people and you are taken on a wondrously strange journey that you can’t wait to return to.