Review | A Wizard’s Sacrifice – A.M. Justice

About the Book

Conquering Fate Takes Sacrifice.

Victoria of Ourtown believes two things: that the bright, wandering star in the heavens is an abandoned spacecraft which brought her ancestors to this world and that destiny and the will of gods are nonsense. Vic used to scoff at stories of wizards too, until she acquired their powers. Once a warrior, now a secret wizard, she just wants to live an ordinary life and find a way to atone for the mistakes she’s made.

Ashel of Narath knows that the wandering star is the god who created humanity, but this difference of opinion doesn’t stop him from loving Vic. All that keeps them apart is a thousand miles and a tragic loss.

Lornk Korng needs Vic and Ashel to execute his plans for conquest. The fact both want him dead is but a trifling snag in his schemes. A bigger problem are the world’s indigenous aliens and an ancient enemy whose victory could wipe out humankind.

As plots and counterplots clash across time, Vic and Ashel must choose their allies carefully, or risk losing not only each other but everything they know.

A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

529 pages (kindle)
Published on October 6, 2020
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This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. I love the fantasy books that decide to turn away from normal and do their own thing. A.M. Justice has done that with her series that is a unique blend of fantasy and science, technology and magic. So far, this series is two books strong, but I don’t really think it’s mandatory to read the first book before reading the second. Each of these books tells its own story and starts at a unique point. Self-contained is a good term for it, which is another point in its favor. I have cancer brain, and a lot going on. Books that can stand on their own are books that interest me. I think there’s not enough said for standalones, and books that are tied together, like the books in this series.

In truth, this book opens up with a bang, and it doesn’t stop its relentless forward motion until you read the last page. This is a dark fantasy, and within the first few pages you’ll read about trails of corpses, so go into it prepared. While the violence doesn’t last throughout the entire book, there are also some pretty heavy themes in this book. It does earn its title of dark fantasy. I love that kind of thing, but for readers looking for a more gentle read, you’ll likely want to pass over this one.

Justice is a medical writer in her daily life, and that strength of hers to know science, and to understand how to write about it really shines through in A Wizard’s Sacrifice. Her ability to marry fantasy and science is really one of the most delightful parts of this book. Magic is derived, basically, from parasites. While this planet had been inhabited in previous generations by interstellar travel. Though much of the technology has been lost, the echoes of it remain. The planet this book takes place on is stunningly well-wrought, full of dynamic, unique people (and creatures), this interesting magic system, and plenty of social stratification and related issues. 

This isn’t a book you just sit back and read. The truth is, a lot of it is uncomfortable, and thought provoking. A Wizard’s Sacrifice is aptly named, and it should be noted that sacrifice is never sacrifice unless it’s painful. 

While I do think the worldbuilding is really where Justice’s talent as an author shines its brightest, the characters in this book are equally polished to a powerful shine. The story really centers around Victoria and Lornk. Victoria and Lornk are characters whose stories intertwine in some really agonizing ways. The tangled threads of their lives are actually the thing that really drives the plot and tells the story. Lornk really stole the stage in my eyes, but I really, really like a well-crafted antagonist. Furthermore, secondary characters are well-crafted, and rather than being propped up in the background, they play a solid role in the book, and will leave you with impressions that don’t fade, which is the hallmark of a good character. It helped to see how others interpreted the events going on, and the main players. All of this, added together, made the book feel stunningly well-rounded.

There are some themes that I was delighted to see, as I don’t think they get enough time and light in fantasy. For example, psychological issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder. These can be minefields for authors to write about. They are tricky topics that require a lot of research and a very careful hand to do them justice, and I was really excited to see them in this book. Representation matters, and I think a lot of people will see the careful handling of psychological conditions like PTSD and see a bit of themselves in the book. This matters. Bad things happen to good people, both in this book and in real life, and I was really excited to see the author shine a light not just on the bad things that happened, but their effects, that shape lives. 

More than that, A Wizard’s Sacrifice is heavy on the political intrigue, which I loved. Seriously, LOVED. IT. I’ve been reading this biography of King John (you know, the guy everyone hated in the 1200s in Britain). I realized today that the reason I loved this book so much is the same reason I loved reading about the early life of King John. It’s all this really twisted political intrigue and it just works for me on every level. Henry II didn’t name a successor, and so his sons were tearing each other apart. Then he had all these illegitimate children on the sides causing their own problems, and just totally messing things up. This rivalry must have been hell to live through, yet as a reader, I can’t stop thinking about it. 

And that’s really what you have here. You’ve got this level of intrigue, family rivalry, squabbling and the like that put my ass in the chair. It’s really well done, and despite how tangled the web got, Justice made her way through it, and takes her readers along for the ride. I not only enjoyed the family dynamics, but the politics as well, and how one thing impacted the other on profound levels. 

The plot is evenly paced, never a dull moment. Even the quiet lulls lead to important points if you pay attention to the breadcrumbs the author lays down. Everything means something. I love books that work with layers, and this one absolutely has them. There’s the surface action, and then there’s everything happening a bit deeper down. Like an iceburg, if you only focus on the part popping out of the water, you’re missing so much. 

A.M. Justice is an author who caught my eye with her first book. Her second book, A Wizard’s Sacrifice, really launched itself over the bar she set with A Wizard’s Forge. I loved every part of the experience of reading this. The mind that crafted such an intricate work is something to truly be admired. I hope that more fantasy readers take the time to discover this author’s books. She deserves so much attention. 

Trust me, you won’t regret it. 

5/5 stars


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