Today, I am reviewing the Fantasy story Province of a Thief (Tal’Avern Chronicles Book 1) by Scott Borgman. An innovative and unique take on the Hero’s Journey, we follow our protagonist, a master thief named Jaelyth, as she discovers that what she believed to be true - her history, her world, and those around her - was but artifice and lies, a web of deceit with dark magic at its core.
I give this book a 4.5/5. Here is my breakdown.
Characters: 5/5. Jaelyth was a fully three-dimensional woman with a rich internal life that Borgman brought out with her every word and gesture. The supporting cast echoed this richness without seeming like mirrors or copies; Captain Dalen Moore’s disdain for magic (and the reasons behind that), the King’s Mage calmness in the face of near-certain disaster, and the Princess Selia’s concern for her sister all felt real and honest. Toward the end of the novel, a few side characters rotate to enjoy more of the spotlight, and it feels earned and true. Well done, Scott!
Plot/Storyline: 4/5. Well-crafted and enjoyable. Borgman develops his world through the actions of his characters, which is my favorite way to experience writing. While much of the story is the typical Journey, Jaelyth experiences enough twists and turns throughout the way to keep its outcome in doubt. Strange allies, enemies where friends once were, and a masterful twist toward the end that my brain had only the faintest idea was coming make this story a fantastic read.
Flow: 4.5/5. I finished this book quickly; the descriptions melded with the action, working to enhance the scenes without drawing me away from them. There were no info-dumps, no huge blocks of exposition or scenery that pulled me from the story. Thank you.
Spelling/Grammar: 4/5. A well-edited, competent work. I can count the typographical errors on one hand, and the grammar errors are even fewer. Excellent...but not perfect. :)
Overall: 4.5/5. A great introduction to a fantasy series that I look forward to continuing soon. Borgman weaves his pen (or keyboard) like a master, delivering a tale that I would be proud to have written. Keep up the good work, and don’t let Jaelyth know where your valuables are; they might end up missing!