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4.41  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Story lives as a thief in the free city of Calushain, and has a plan to escape to better life. But when her stash of money is stolen by her brother, she finds herself faced with a death sentence from her crime lord boss.

Desperate to pay off her debt, she searches for a score big enough to earn her freedom. Instead, she finds the orison, a magical artifact that could tip
Kindle Edition, 231 pages
Published February 28th 2014 by Nine Muse Press (first published February 1st 2014)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  105 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Emmie Mears
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been waiting for this book a long time. I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and I've known Daniel for some time now.

Way back when, I read his short story, BURN. I was completely smitten by his writing then, and when I heard ORISON was in the works, I knew he wouldn't disappoint.

I was right -- he not only delivered a rock-solid debut novel, but the story and particularly the protagonist, Story, really blew me away. There are so few female protagonists in fantasy and so many
Naomi Parrish
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Do not expect ye olde fantasy book when reading this one. The author not only dodges the standard fantasy tropes, but has created a fast-paced story, no pun intended, that entertains without those tired tropes dragging it down.

The characters are fully fleshed and very compelling. From complicated relationships to believable motivations, each character is captivating in their own way.

The components of the tale, from intrigue to magic, are beautifully woven to create a book that's difficult to put
Lex Larson
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of clever characters, action, intrigue, heists and dragons.
A drunk, a thief, his strife and her brother...
When I lament the dearth of smart, capable characters in media, invariably someone pipes up to claim smart characters are uninteresting.

I have always disagreed, and now I have Orison as an example of a book where there are characters with intelligence, nuance, integrity and strength weaving a compelling page-turner of a tale. These are engaging characters, each uniquely endearing. These are momentous events visited on the powerful and the meek
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Much as I enjoy sword-and-sorcery mayhem amidst epic backdrops (and that is certainly present in healthy dollops), what stands out in Orison is the almost Elmore Leonard-like quality of roping up a bunch of characters, each of whom so much smaller than that backdrop, and spending time with them as they are tossed about by forces and momentous choices beyond their grasp. Dan Swensen isn’t trying to do anything particularly new here, but he does do it particularly well. I think one of the ...more
Sherry Ramsey
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy novel--and I've been feeling "meh" about a lot of fantasy for a number of years. I've found a lack of fresh ideas to be plaguing the genre, but Orison stood out for me as something different from the rest of the pack. The writing is top-notch and the pace fast and engaging. I particularly liked the characters, especially Wrynn, and really became invested in what happened to them. My only complaint is that it seemed too short and gone too quickly! Highly ...more
Aaron Engler
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Not a fantasy book to miss.

When I read a book, I look for something that transports me away from this world into something new and different, something that immerses me from the get-go. Orison delivers. The book is written with a verdant prose that grips the reader's imagination from the first page and doesn't let go, until it's swift and all-too-brief journey is over.

Set amongst the intrigues of dragon spirits and underworld thieves, Orison is the story of a young woman making her way though
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been eagerly awaiting Daniel Swensen’s next work after since I read his short story Burn. While Burn is a solid science fiction tale, Orison is a wonderfully written fantasy novel that interweaves the perspective of three great characters: a thief named Story, a banished wizard named Wrynn, and a guard of the queen named Ashen. Each of these characters struggles to navigate the dangers of a city fraught with conspiracies of powerful people who have no qualms about using Story, Wrynn, and ...more
Mona Bliss
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not the sort of reviewer that is going to tell you the story of the book. I will tell you that this is a very well crafted book with a tight plot and excellent world building. But where it really shines is with the characters. The main character is a young woman named Story. Right out of the gate I loved that name. I won't explain why that is her name, read the book and you'll find out. She's smart and independent and is doing everything she can think of to make her way in the world against ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to read an earlier draft of Orison, by Daniel Swensen, about a year ago, and I enjoyed the read quite a bit. It was a well-crafted tale that would fit well into the fantasy genre and hold its place on shelves at stores and libraries. I knew that he was working on revisions, and I looked forward to the final draft with excitement. To say the final product impressed me would be a significant understatement. Daniel managed to take an engaging tale and make is something more, ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I happily read this book in one sitting. In fiction and especially in fantasy, there are a number of stories which are frequently retold. I don't think that's always a bad thing, but there's room for different narratives and it's really wonderful to find another sort of story. Story Khai Tann is a delightful protagonist. She's got plenty of problems and they keep getting bigger, and they don't include needing to find True Love or to be rescued. She's not the only wonderful character in this ...more
E.A. Lawrence
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
The adventure of a young thief named Story who is trying to survive in the city of Calushain after her brother gets them in a bind, while simultaneously avoiding the notice of the Dragon gods, is a page-turning piece of sharply crafted narrative that left me wanting more. The pacing is perfect, the characters feel real, and the world clearly has deep roots that you can feel supporting every page. I can hardly wait for the sequel.
Rebecca Fyfe
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book yesterday and didn't start reading it until late last night. Starting it so late was a mistake though as I couldn't put it down. I was so swept up the story being presented before me that I stayed up much too late in order to finish the book, and now I am waking up today feeling tired and lacking enough sleep.

I love the main characters in the world of Daniel Swensen's creation. There are so many protagonists in this story, people of honour despite their flaws, that it's
Kae Cheatham
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This fast-paced book by Daniel Swensen gained my attention with the opening pages. He presented a strong character named Story, and proceeded to involve me in her story. When the point of view switched to another character, I was, at first, disappointed, but soon became engrossed with former-mage, Wrynn, and then with warborn Ashen One-Howl--all with definitive personalities that enhanced the overall story.

I've started, and left unfinished, fantasy novels that are overly caught up in the sword
Dr. Pete Meyers
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The trend in modern fantasy seems to be an obsession with showing the darkest, grittiest corners of a world the author can find. Characters in conflict move more and more beyond redemption, until I find it difficult to relate to any of them. Orison accomplishes something rare - to paint its characters on a backdrop of conflict, with strokes of real human motivation and flaws, and yet somehow make them redeemable.

Calushain and the world around it are locked in turmoil, with lives and thrones on
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jillian by: H.N. James
Shelves: fantasy
This is a really good story.

The characters are fairly stock fantasy characters - a desperate thief with nothing to lose, an exiled wizard stripped of his power who resorts to drink. However, these characters are likeable and have good stories behind them. So it's cool.

The author adds just the right amount of backstory-worldbuilding-flavour to keep the reader interested without bogging down the plot. This book is first in a series, right? There will be more, right?
Alex Brightsmith
Pacey, involving, and set in a densely imagined and tantalisingly glimpsed world, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book except that I don’t quite love it, and I’ve been putting off reviewing it in the hope that I would reread it in a better mood and improve my rating – but there’s far too much on my to-read list to wait for that to happen.
Stacy Bennett
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Orison transports you another world, but be careful - here there be dragons.

I don’t like to write reviews, partially because I don’t know what will spoil the read for someone else. So I will tread carefully here. I really enjoyed reading Daniel Swensen’s Orison, finishing it in one sitting on a lovely snowy Saturday.

Orison is the tale of Story, a sort-of female Oliver Twist, and her drunken ex-sorcerer friend named Wrynn who unwittingly become embroiled in a complicated plot to start a war. She
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, indie

Come on down to the Red Cities this summer! Calushain is beautiful this time of year, as long as you don’t mind the explosions, sky terrors, thieves, and street battles. Okay, so maybe it’s not the most relaxing vacation destination, but Calushain is filled with excitement and adventure and you’re about to get a face-full of it.

Orison is Daniel Swensen’s debut novel and he doesn't disappoint. Mr. Swensen deftly builds a complex fantasy world with a interesting magic system based on Draconic
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My review of Daniel Swensen's Orison:

Daniel Swensen’s Orison is at once charming, infinitely exciting and introspective, and forever fun. Told through the perspective of a young, female thief, an exiled sorcerer, and an inhuman bodyguard to the Queen of Calushain herself, the reader will start on page one and soon think to themselves “Wait… how the hell is this book almost finished already?” The book is the type that you won’t want to put down. Chances are, in fact, that you will not.

Brooke Johnson
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
With Daniel Swensen’s Orison, I was hooked the moment I read the first sentence. Swensen immediately dragged me into the world of Calushain and the lives of its denizens in a way that brought the city to life, from a den of thieves to the high halls of Calushain’s queen. While reading, I really felt that this place existed that I went on, well after finishing the book, thinking about the world Swensen created within Orison. The sheer quality of the writing, storytelling, and world-building ...more
Anne Odom
Quick reminder: 3 stars means I liked it. :)

Daniel Swensen puts together a robust world without subjecting the reader to a massive information dump at the start - this skill makes me a very happy reader. :)

- Wrynn and Dunnac. Their relationship and interactions are witty and endearing. I enjoyed the history beyond both characters, and I feel like we've only scratched the surface of those guys.
- Ashen. He may well be my favorite character. His loyalty, clear
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, well-edited, indie
This is sword-and-sorcery done right.

Not only is the writing and editing almost flawless, the plotting, the character development and the worldbuilding are all at a very high standard. I seldom see a book this good.

Set in a grim world, but not grimdark, it's the story of hapless lowlifes doing the right thing, largely because of their friendship with each other, at personal cost. There's tragedy, but it's not all tragedy. (In fact, there are some wonderful wry comic moments in the dialogue,
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebooks
Orison presents a fantasy world and cosmology not quite like any other I've read. These differences underpin the central conflict of the book, and make for an engaging read.

The world of Orison is ruled by Gods called the Semblances, or Dragons. Each one is a personification of a property - shadow, power, etc.

The relationship between the dragons and the people is complicated, and categorized more by fear and distrust than love and awe. Everyone seeks the dragons' favor, while simultaneously
Kevin Hammond
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved the beginning of this book. It set the whole pace of the story with sheer daring.
Many of the books ive come across gently urge a reader into a story by introducing the character while keeping you interested long enough for a story to develop. its familiar and as a reader it is comfortable and expected. However it is a welcome surprise to have come across a writer who will throw you into an exhilarating bit of adventure right from the outset, and then introduce the character. A great
Janie G
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I took a chance on this book. I was pretty hesitant to read it- an author I stumbled upon while reading blogs? Fantasy? I dunno...... I read a lot of fantasy while growing up, but as an adult I have been pretty disenchanted with the genre. Orison proves that good fantasy novels still exist.

Most of all, the plot is well constructed. The characters' lives and complicated motivations are all nicely tangled together to keep the story moving. I appreciated a strong female character that
Lara Hays
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've gone back and forth on the rating and I think I've settled on 4.5 stars so that rounds up to 5. Swenson's prose is electric and moving. His ability to paint a world of imagery with the same 26 letters of the alphabet we all use is beyond impressive. The premise of Orison was refreshing. Tales of the "chosen one" -- from Harry Potter to Luke Skywalker to Ender Wiggins -- get overdone. From Story to Wrynn to Ashen, each character works for their own fate. Reading the book summary, I assumed ...more
Kurt Springs
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally published by Kurt's Frontier under Invincible Love of Reading.

Story is a thief who lives in the city of Calushain. She and her brothers are servants of a crime lord boss, and Story is skimming money from her thefts to escape the city and her servitude. When her brother betrays her to their boss, she finds herself living on borrowed time. In her effort to repay her debt, she steals a magic object that can tip the balance of power on her world. The Orison that
Joanne Roberts
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty clean, complex fantasy. Unconventional plotting which works nonetheless. Sympathetic characters, imaginative world-building. Don't be put off by the long list of names and places; well worth the satisfying ending if you can wade through those minor instances.

When I read the author's online post about writing fantasy and building backstory, I thought he had it right. Orison does not disappoint in that sense. There is obviously a lot of history behind the story, but Swensen, for the most
Lisa Shambrook
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fantasy to draw you in…

In my head I’d built this book up to be a huge fantasy tome, but forget GRRM, this was just the right length, and utterly enchanting. Swensen’s writing is tight and captivating and his story follows suit.

His characters are well fashioned, three-dimensional and very believable. From the beginning I was caught up in Story’s tale, as she leapt from rooftop to rooftop and several times, thanks to the author’s superior description, my heart was in my mouth. Swensen
Traci Loudin
I read it in a week, so clearly I enjoyed it! By the end, I loved Story and Wrynn. I have to admit it's not often that you see friendships portrayed this strongly between opposite-gendered characters, so I kept wondering if there was going to be romance. But even though other characters often remarked on them liking each other, nothing came of it. Still too much talk of it for me to mark this as non-romance, however. There for a while I even thought Wrynn and Dun might have a thing going.

So the
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Daniel Swensen tries to write the kind of fiction he wants to see in the world. ORISON is his first novel.
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