Exile is a self-published fantasy, the debut novel by Martin Owton. I received this book through TBRindr in exchange for my honest and fair review. Admittedly I was unfamiliar with this author or his novel, and I was able to read this book with no biases.
The brief synopsis tells us: “Aron of Darien, raised in exile after his homeland is conquered by a treacherous warlord, makes his way in the world on the strength of his wits and skill with a sword. Both are sorely tested when he is impressed into the service of the Earl of Nandor to rescue his heir from captivity in the fortress of Sarazan. The rescue goes awry. Aron and his companions are betrayed and must flee for their lives. Pursued by steel and magic, they find new friends and old enemies on the road that leads, after many turns, to the city of the High King. There Aron must face his father’s murderer before risking everything in a fight to the death with the deadliest swordsman in the kingdom.”
Before I share any other thoughts, I want to help de-bunk a common assumption of self-published or independent fiction, the one that believes they will all be of poor quality. I offer Exile as an example of an exception. The story is filled with likeable characters, the primary one who consistently displays noble qualities and good judgment. The prose is arguably the strength of this book, flowing well throughout, fast-paced when necessary, and elegant in others. The plot, while not the most unique, does offer some satisfying twists and reveals that carry the reader effectively toward the big finish.
I tend to be an “emotional reader” rather than a “critical reader” (my terms). I tend to simply get swept up by a good book (or carried away by a great book) instead of deliberately dwelling on the reasons “why” a book is having this effect on me. As a result, I am not a natural book reviewer. It is sometimes hard to articulate what made the book move me in a positive or negative direction. With that said, I genuinely liked the book in a general sense.
In reflecting on the book, I think it would make a great book for someone who wants to try out a sword and sorcery fantasy. It is relatively short (especially compared to some of the bricks that are out there). It’s an easy read without being simplistic or juvenile. It includes some romance, some magic and some well-done fight scenes. Who knows, this might just be type of book that will hook someone to read more and more fantasy.
This is a likeable book that is easy to read, and easy to recommend. 4.25 / 5 stars. Well done Martin, and thanks for sending a copy to me.