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The Birr Elixir

(The Legend of the Gamesmen #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  35 reviews
ISBNs moved to this edition
When a young apprentice makes a mysterious elixir from a recipe in an old book, she's suddenly the talisman for a daring Gamesman - and the weapon in the conspiracy against a prince.

Marra had never heard of Birr Elixir.

But when Drail of the Hand of Victory saw the words in an old book, she agreed to make it - even lacking the right ingredient.
Paperback, 196 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Sparkes Production (first published May 31st 2013)
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This is one of those books that takes you on a wild ride through a world filled with fantasy, wonder, intrigue, magic, and mystical beings.

Marra is a young apprentice, studying the ways of potions under her beloved mentor, whose life is cut short leaving Marra without a complete education.

Without divulging spoilers, this is one that is hard to describe so I will do my best not to reveal too much.

Marra's life goes downhill quickly after the death of her mentor leaves her in the clutches of a ver
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marra, a young healer’s apprentice, finds herself the Brista (special potion maker) of a group of men who play a dangerous and hazardous sport. Drail, their leader, asks Marra for a special potion to give them extra strength and speed as they face the fearsome Skullan team – and Marra finds herself trying to make the secret Birr Elixir. Marra must overcome her doubt and believe in the hope of a new future.

Drail and his group of men save Marra from an unsavoury man who has bad intentions and at
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing

By Momma on June 14, 2013

The Birr Elixir is Jo Sparkes debut fantasy novel. I really enjoyed this book as will fantasy fans of all ages. There is something for everyone. While this book does have an awesome heroine it isn’t a “chick book”. There are big burly competitive men and none of them are clamoring for the girl! That is a refreshing twist. Although I can’t make any promises for the next book in the series, but there isn’t romance in this book. Only friendship and camarader
Brian Marshall
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elixir? Indeed!

When I first downloaded Jo Sparkes’ “The Birr Elixir”, I was expecting a YA fantasy, a genre where the perceived sophistication of the target audience can sometimes serve as an excuse for the quality of the writing itself.

But whether you’re just out of diapers or signing up for Medicare, you’ll find this book an unqualified delight. Without a trace of condescension or any pretension on her part, Sparkes presents a rollicking tale in a world that’s fully imagined. Even more impres
Carolyn Young
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Birr Elixir is a very engaging fantasy tale. The characters are well developed, the story is quite creative and well written, and it moves at a quick pace that makes you want to keep reading. The author is excellent at description, and I could visualize the places and people quite clearly. I can still close my eyes and visualize myself as Marra experiencing new places that I’ve never seen before!

The only criticism I have is that the ending lacked resolution and left many unanswered questions
Leigh Holland
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes, 196 pages, Oscar Press, May 31st, 2013, Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Adventure/Sword and Sorcery. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
The Birr Elixir is a Young Adult Fantasy novella that has wider appeal. Jo Sparkes masterfully draws together elements of action, adventure, sports, fantasy, and sorcery in a likeable, exotic world. The Birr Elixir is the first installment in “The Legend of the Gamesmen” series. It is the winner of the Silver Ippy award and the BRAG Medall
Gemma Feltham
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Summer has finally arrived and with it comes holidays lying on the beach with a good book or e-book. To start my summer get away early I escaped into the fictional world within The Birr Elixir, the first book in a series titled The Legend of The Gamesmen penned by Jo Sparkes.

First impressions are good, the prologue is strong and offers important detail for the rest of the novel rather than just being a large and unnecessary paragraph. Continuing onto the first chapter Sparkes sets a comfortable
Removed Removed
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Don’t you just love it when you take on a novel and author you’ve not read before and find a hidden gem. Thats what this novel should be all about. Jo Sparkes, has created a mythical realm where two races the Truemen and the Skullans co-exist, magic and potions are real, and the whole place is on the brink of a war. Its in the midst of all this, that we meet Marra, an apprentice in what can best be described as an apothecary shop.

When we first meet Marra, our first description of her is as follo
E.M. Cooper
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to 'The Birr Elixir'(The Legend of the Gamesmen) by its striking cover. After a few chapters I was captivated by the storyline, characters and dialogue. Jo Sparkes has depicted the characters skilfully and their voices are distinct and recognisable.

Nineteen-year-old Prince Tryst from the Skullan race on the Great Continent sets out on his epourney or coming of age journey. After being betrayed, he is captured and carried over the ocean to the Waverley Continent by the villains of the
K.S. Ferguson
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Author Sparkes has written an excellent short fantasy story. The plot has a recognizable beginning, middle, and end. Groundwork is begun for the trouble ahead in the next book. Characters change because of the action in the story.

And the characters are realistic, interesting, likeable, and flawed. They are well-differentiated from each other and definitely people I want to travel with in the future. The villains are perhaps a touch stereotyped, but we're only meeting the second-string henchmen
P.J. McDermott
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed The Birr Elixir very much, and I am sure other fans of fantasy will enjoy it too. Jo Sparkes writes exceptionally well, providing clear descriptions, good dialogue and a well paced story that is very easy to read. My view is that the story (part one in a trilogy) might have been more richly developed in two ways - the desert setting and the backstory of the main character, Marra. She is intriguing and likeable and grows on you the further into the story you get. I am hoping in the next ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book introduces you to Marra, a young apprentice in a herb shop. Drail, a comet player, asks for an energy potion. Her instructor, Britta, is dead, and she brews a potion similar to one in Britta’s Book. Drail’s team wins, and they rescue her from her new boss. It is a story of new beginnings, moral values, and belief in one’s capabilities.

With The Birr Elixir, Jo Sparkes has created a fantasy story of unusual travel companions, a global ball sport and important contests, rivalry between tw
T.A. Bratcher
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Burr Elixir a must read!

Finding a good fantasy novel is difficult, like digging for diamonds. Yet occasionally, just occasionally, you will find that rare diamond when you least expect it. The Burr Elixir is not merely a good read; a diamond of a book that you treasure forever. I highly recommend this book to my friends and fellow fantasy loving readers. I suggest keeping an eye out on what Jo Sparkes brings us next.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
i wish i could win this book... i loveeee the plot and can't wait to read it... :D ...more
Phil Matthews
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty darn good

A new game is invented for this title. There is an interesting plot with strong characters. Interviewing Emmet "They're just dogs" Smith is nothing positive for me.
Gwynneth Ott
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To prove yourself.

This is more than a tale of one hero, but a group trying to find out who they are and where they stand. A very quick read, but intensely satisfying.
Colleen Chesebro
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

In the land of Missea – under Skullan rule

King Bactor’s son Tryst, must undertake his first epourney in order to become a man to fulfill his destiny of becoming the future King of the Skullan people and all Trumen. Since a prince’s epourney is undertaken with a best friend, Tryst leaves with three of his best friends, Baldar, Mauric, and Jason. When it is determined that Mauric is ill and cannot travel
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I will read it today!
Hell, I have so much work; I will surely read it tomorrow!
It has been a week!!! I am starting sure today.

And that today didn’t come for four more weeks. But when it finally came I skipped my lunch hour cause I didn’t want to leave the story unfinished. Not that I had to finish it, but I was scared that if I leave the book now and for some reason I can’t resume reading it soon it would drive me crazy. That was the power of “The Birr Elixir” by Jo Sparkes. A fellow blogger had
Rubin Johnson
Mar 07, 2015 rated it liked it
The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes is a short fantasy novel. In general, it's well edited with lots of interesting and colorful characters. A prologue introduces Prince Tryst. Chapter 1 brings in the female main character, Marra, and the skilled gamesman, Drail. The story starts on the day of a very important game for Drail. Marra has a role and the plot begins moving at a good pace that the novel maintains. Overall, my rating was between okay and like. I'm rounding up to like.

Several aspects of the
Michael O'Gara
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a fun read for those who like fantasy. Jo Sparks is definitely a talented writer and The Birr Elixir is an entertaining story. The character development is solid, the story line is interesting, the book is well paced and the dialogue is good but this book does have a “fatal flaw” so read on.

Marra, the heroine, is an apprentice potion maker. Her mistress has died before Marra can complete her training. As a result of her mistress’s death, she is left in the care of Snark, her mistress’s
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The prologue drew me into this book right away and I finished it within a few hours because I literally could not put it down. With such a short synopsis, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but it was enough to attract my interest and the cover was definitely intriguing.

While I was absorbed in the book, it took me a bit to understand the direction it was going. The game was much more important than I initially thought it would be. However, it all came together very nicely. There came a point
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a fun fantasy book. I was surprised on how much I ended up liking it. I was asked by the author to review her book and accepted after reading the interesting synopsis. I was not sure what to expect because I've had hits and misses with fantasy books. Luckily, this was a hit with me.

I quite enjoyed the story. I was immediately captivated with the world introduced to me in the beginning. I wanted to know more about being a potion maker and was intrigued with the popular game called "Come
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
It’s been a while since I’ve found myself absorbed in a good fantasy book, but this one broke that dry spell. I was a bit dubious at first as I didn’t really see where the story was going, however when the main plot line was introduced I couldn’t put the book down.
I would have liked to find out more about the individual characters/groups of people; there was a lack of backstory that made it really hard for me to actually care about the characters. This is the first book in a series though,
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The Birr Elixir is a well woven fantasy tale with enough realism to keep any reader involved. It follows the lives of three main characters, the chance meetings that change their lives, and their unexpected journey. Throughout this story you continually get swept up in the intense action of the Comet games (an extremely clever invention of the author); and pulled into the intrigue of strangers meeting, trust as yet unearned, and deception from assumed allies.

Marra is a poor and lonely apprentice
J C Steel
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Birr Elixir is a near-legendary potion, which only the elite of herbalists are able to mix - or can find the ingredients for. So when the captain of the local Comet team, Hand of Victory, comes into the herb shop asking for an energy potion, Marra, a bare one year into her apprenticeship, makes the first energy recipe she sees in her dead mentor's recipe book, never realising the significance of the recipe. When that same potion helps the Hand of Victory team to achieve an impossible win, th ...more
Rosie Amber
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Birr Elixir is book one in the Legend of Gamesmen series. It is a fantasy with several themes going on which will pan out further in later books. Tryst is a Prince who must set out on a coming of age journey into manhood called a epourney. He must travel the realm to learn about the people and the land before he can become their leader.

Marra works in a potions shop. Sadly Mistress Britta died before her studies were complete, but she can still learn from Britta's book. Treated badly by Britt
Katy Haye
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved the world-building in The Birr Elixir – I was really there feeling the dust and sand under my feet. There were some great characters – Marra was very easy to identify with and I enjoyed watching her blossom from a down-trodden start into a capable young woman. The Hand of Victory team were also an engaging bunch, and there were several mysteries to keep me guessing. Oh, and I’m well aware of the old adage, but look at that cover, what a stunner!

Lively, entertaining and good humoured, Th
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
After reading the Prologue, I can't wait to read what will happen to Marra, Tryst and Drail along the way!

This fantasy novel's detailed descriptions of the settings and characters make it easier for readers to connect through imagination. One can easily relate to the set of events and will surely look forward to the next. This is a key to make the readers to be more attached and to keep the interest on fire.

One who really loves fantasy and those who want to discover what fantasy novels can bri
Tony Riches
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jo Sparkes has created an evocative world which draws on all the senses. Her first sentence. ‘It was a very dirty shop,’ draws you in to the life of Marra – a modern heroine who knows there must be more to life than the virtual slavery to her unsavoury master, Snark. Jo Sparkes’ background as a sports writer shines through in the ritual games of the ‘Comet Days,’ around which the plot develops at a fast pace.

Secret potions and magical books place this firmly in the fantasy genre and the gamesme
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A recommended read from BookViral I really enjoyed The Birr Elixir. I have found the fantasy genre a little stale lately and it is getting harder to find quality books, but this was certainly one of the most entertaining I have read in a while. The plot is excellent and there is a little levity which brings out the personalities of the main characters.
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A former member of the Pro Football Writer’s Association, Jo was the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he started with the Arizona Cardinals. She’s written commercials, done interviews, staffed on a local children’s television show, and taught screenwriting at the Film School at SCC. Her awards include the Kay Snow for best screenplay, three B.R.A.G. Medallions, and a silver IPPY.

At the moment

Other books in the series

The Legend of the Gamesmen (3 books)
  • The Agben School (The Legend of the Gamesmen #2)
  • The Dim Continent  (The Legend of the Gamesmen #3)

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