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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 09/2021
  • 978-1-7353592-3-6 ‎ B0957ZL63J
  • 439 pages
  • $2.99
Paperback Details
  • 06/2021
  • ‎ 978-1735359229
  • 494 pages
  • $17.99
Dan Lutts
Author
Charm Wars
Dan Lutts, author

Young Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Welcome to Caldon, where the noblesse possess massive political and magical power and destroy anyone who threatens the noblesse way of life—especially the commoners.

Rill Larkin, the son of a commoner blacksmith, has high ambitions. To be a mage, join the exalted ranks of the ruling noblesse, and establish his own noblesse family. Defying both the system and his family, Rill becomes the apprentice of Deuth Estati, a powerful archmage. But appearances deceive. As training progresses, Rill learns of decades-long secrets and manipulations that threaten his dream. And Deuth might not be as benevolent as Rill thought.

Alyse Dejune despises magic, even if she does belong to one of the oldest and most powerful noblesse families in Caldon. The deceits and treacheries of noblesse life and the loveless marriage alliances among the noblesse families disgust her. Her family however has high expectations: that she fulfill her role as a noblesse girl by marrying Troy Estati, an arrogant, selfish noblesse boy she does not love. And Alyse harbors a secret—the potential to become one of the most powerful mages in generations and wield forbidden magic—that, if revealed, could mean her death.

In this deadly game of ever-shifting alliances, where the state wages perpetual war against an ancient enemy, Rill and Alyse are thrown together in a land where magic is failing. And as greedy noblesse families raid surrounding family compounds for powerful charms, Rill and Alyse are left standing at a terrible crossroads.

Reviews
In Caldon, the world of this accomplished and inventive fantasy epic, women rule, peasants suffer, and the “noblesse” enforce the class order with every power available to them, including magic. The story focuses on a pair of young people whose lives reflect—and entwine—with each other’s. Rill Larkin, the commoner apprentice to archmage Deuth Estati dreams of establishing himself as a mage, vowing “I can become someone important … I can become noblesse.” Secrets surround him, though, both involving his lineage and the intentions of his master. Meanwhile, 15 year-old Alyse Dejun faces the dire fate so many young women have, throughout history and literature: seeing her own gifts languish ignored as she’s impressed into a marriage she doesn’t want, for political benefit.

“You’ll learn to love me,” the young archmage Troy warns Alyse, “because your family’s survival depends on it.” Lutts invigorates these somewhat familiar premises with much heart, invention, and attention to lived-in character detail, demonstrating an awareness of reader expectations and a welcome willingness to upend them. The novel is hefty, even by fantasy standards, but the cast (especially the strong-willed Alyse) is appealing, the magic lively, and the conflicts—cutting across lines of class, gender, politics, and magical aptitude—compelling, especially as alliances get upended, and Rill and Alyse’s stories thread together.

The broader plot centers on the decline of magic in the land and the hunt for powerful mage’s “charms,” but what will grab readers of YA fantasy is the sharply delineated characters, who face tough choices and exhibit rich inner lives. The matriarchal society and the general worldbuilding prove engaging, revealed through action and dialogue without Lutts bogging down the storytelling for explanations. It all builds to a promise of more adventure, and while the late turns and revelations satisfy, readers not accustomed to brick-thick fantasy may wonder why more hasn’t been wrapped up after so many pages.

Takeaway: A memorable character-driven fantasy of shifting alliances, surprising magic, and two bold young mages.

Great for fans of: Garth Nix, Claire LeGrand’s Furyborn.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

S. Stanley on Amazon

I Truly Enjoyed this new Fantasy Novel!

I love reading fantasy stories. This book is almost 500 pages long. Once I started reading Charm Wars, I forgot how many pages there were. I was reading it very fast and it was SO hard to put down. This is one of those books that you carry everywhere and read every chance you get.

I was hooked when I read the back cover where it said, "Welcome to Caldon, a land of mages and magic". The magic is super cool and easy to follow. There were many unique things that I liked. My favorite characters by far were Alyse Dejune, a member of the most powerful noblesse families in Caldon, and her cousin, Kate, a Back watcher, who protects her. Alyse is strong and determined about who she is and who she wants to be in the future. She does not want to take orders from the family matriarch about who she should marry and when. Kate is one of the most loyal friends I've ever read in a book, next to Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. Alyse and Kate work well together and always have each other's back.

Rill is the son of a commoner blacksmith who dreams of becoming a mage. He wants to leave the poor and oppressed life behind. Rill is bold, hard-headed, impatient, and impulsive. The only person that's been able to keep Rill kind of under control is his cousin, Jedd. Once big things start to happen for Rill, Jedd becomes more disenchanted with him and how much he has changed. Also, there is so much going on with the political structure of this world, and boy, there are many secrets that were hidden and now are being revealed. Each time one was revealed, there was another gasp from me.

The action is nonstop and the other characters are written so rich and unique. The alliances made among the rich and poor keep changing and you never know who to trust. There are many powerful people in this novel from all walks of life and it's exciting to see when new magical powers are exhibited.

I truly enjoyed this novel and could hardly believe this was Dan Lutt’s first novel. I was so fully immersed in the world of Caldon and I can't wait to go back. The novel did end on a cliffhanger and I need to know when Book 2 will be published. This fantasy novel gets 5-stars from me for being different, fast-paced, and keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 09/2021
  • 978-1-7353592-3-6 ‎ B0957ZL63J
  • 439 pages
  • $2.99
Paperback Details
  • 06/2021
  • ‎ 978-1735359229
  • 494 pages
  • $17.99

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