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The Burning Isle

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic…

“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”

Cassius is not lost…

The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Ace
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Will Panzo Hi Agnes. Thanks for your interest in the book. Unfortunately I don't have any control over pricing. Book prices are set by my publisher, presumably i…moreHi Agnes. Thanks for your interest in the book. Unfortunately I don't have any control over pricing. Book prices are set by my publisher, presumably in line with other books in the field.

As for the number of ratings, the book has only been out for one day. But I expect there will be more reviews/ratings in the coming weeks. Hope that helps answer some of your questions.

This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Will Panzo
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.45  · 
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

One never knows what to expect when diving into a debut, especially when the book in question comes with the ambitious label of “grimdark”. Because this happens to be one of my favorite subgenres, I can be quite demanding—not to mention I also have very particular tastes. The Burning Isle, however, exceeded expectations even when it didn’t turn out like anything I had in mind. In its own way, this novel was intensely ent
Althea Ann
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Newly arrived in the cesspit of a city known as Scipio, the young man Cassius presents himself as a gladiator, ready to fight for pay.

Scipio is a city of the edge of a savage jungle on the very outskirts of an Empire reminiscent of that of ancient Rome. But in this Empire, gladiatorial fights are traditionally fought with magic, powered by spells woven into jewels set in traditional gauntlets worn by the fighters. Although physically unimpressive, Cassius has these gauntlets - and he loses no t
James Islington
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just realised that this was released yesterday (I received an ARC of it a few months ago), and while I don’t normally write reviews, I’m going to make a quick exception here.

The Burning Isle should have been a book that I didn’t enjoy. It’s solidly ‘grimdark’, a style of fantasy of which I generally steer clear. It was also sent to me while I was in the middle of editing my own book – and when I’m in that mode, I inevitably look at everything I read through a hyper-critical lens. Not to mentio
This review is based on an eARC I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review and the advanced receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

When I started reading this story I was pulled in immediately. The background story on Cassius is very violent but also intriguing and I wanted to know more but I never received the full story. Raised on the Isle of Twelve Cassius went through vicious training that taught him all about control and magical arts. Unfortunately, Cassiu
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

The Burning Isle is a book that captivated me from the very beginning. It’s fun, fast paced and I immediately felt connected to the protagonist, Cassius. I found myself both rooting for him and also growing more curious about him with each page. The story is told from his POV, and has a series of interspersed flash back chapters that help you piece together both his history and his motivation.

In the start of the book, Cassius
Greg (adds 2 TBR list daily) Hersom
Somewhere I read it stated that The Burning Isle is like a fantasy version of A Fistful of Dollars -it may have been an interview with the Will Panzo, not sure- and that pretty much immediately got me on board. The plot is very similar to that classic Eastwood spaghetti western but it brought Daniel Polansky's Low Town series to my mind.

For me the magic was a little too heavily used, but a lot of fantasy fans prefer it that way. I did kinda like the system behind the magic, but personally I tho
Sachin Dev
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Edited Linear review up on the blog now:

Much as I would like to extol the virtues of this action packed grim dark tale steeped in magic, mysticism and intrigue, with its strong graphic novel vibes about the overlapping timelines and a twisted narrative of a stranger who arrives on this remote, cut off jungle island full of lawless cutthroats and ganglords fighting brutally for supremacy, after I finish this breathless feverishly paced novel, my warm feelings seemed to slip
Molly Smith
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Initial thoughts: I was completely lost in this novel, but in a good way. I was half way through when I started thinking this was a 500+ novel. However, it is not because it was dragging but because I found myself reading slowly (a rarity for me) because I was trying to drink it all in and savor it. The world is so captivating, the story unfolding and the tension and mystery building. It's a slow burn novel of fantasy adventure/intrigue. Though I was able to figure out some of the mystery, I was ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A finely wrought tangled skein of a tale! Cassa is a cool customer and very much a enigma.. I can't wait until the next book! ...more
Kimberly (Book Swoon)
I think it is time I finally set this book to rest. The Burning Isle by Will Panzo was on my highly anticipated to-read list back when it was first released by ACE in 2016.

I could not wait to read this grimdark fantasy novel, especially since it was set on an island filled with lawless cutthroats, pirates, and assassins fighting for supremacy. I was looking forward to lots of dark magic and battles.

The world has an ancient Roman vibe to it featuring warrior gladiators, only they use magical ga
Patrick St-Denis
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was intrigued by the premise of this book from the get-go. Which is why Will Panzo's The Burning Isle immediately went to the top of my "books to read" pile when it showed up in my mailbox. My last two grimdark reads left something to be desired, so I was hoping that this would be the novel that would scratch that itch and make me appreciate this subgenre again the way I used to.

Perhaps my expectations were too high for this fantasy debut. After all, it was a work that had yet to garner any re
Anne - Books of My Heart
Review at The Book Nympho.

icon fantasy    icon historical

Again,  I find myself reading a book because I'm an Ace Roc star. It is not one I would have chosen myself. I used to think I didn't like historical type fantasy and now I know that's not exactly true. Ace Roc has given me such an opportunity to grow and discover new things. I appreciate it.

The Burning Isle is the first book in a new series by a new author. There's a nice interview at The Qwillery. I added the content warning
Darcia Helle
I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what to say about it. The story kept me reading through every one of the 400+ pages. Then I got to the final sentence and I thought, "Huh." The whole thing left me feeling a little dazed.

Now that my eyes have lost their glaze, I'm here attempting to put some perspective on my reading experience. I can't say I loved the book, but I definitely didn't dislike it. One thing I can say with certainty is that this s
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, fantasy
In my quest for solid dark fantasy stories, I picked this up, intrigued by the quasi-Roman Empire setting. The main character is Cassius, a mysterious "killer" (spellcaster) who's arrived at a small city on a remote island at the edge of the Empire. He's clearly a man with a plan, and rapidly finds and manipulates a local innkeeper and fence into aiding his mysterious purpose, which involves the two crime lords who rule over the city.

I pretty quickly realized this was a re-imagining of the Yojim
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-books-read
Bloody. Readable but not great.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, acerocstars
4.5 stars. Impressive debut. Full review at Facets of Fantasy. ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it

Title: The Burning Isle
Author: Will Panzo
Pages: 417
Genre: Adult Fiction, Politics, Magic
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A fantasy story that follows a man named Cassius and his plan for revenge. On the island of Scipio, our main character embarks on an extensive plan that is years in the making. He joins in magical fights and goes undercover in order to get his revenge. This is a very long story where we get to see both sides of a war with a complete world being built in between. Altho
Jun 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
I couldn't wait to finish this book ... so I could go back to reading a good book.

It started with potential and then fell apart. A choppy story, dialogue between characters that doesn't make it clear who's speaking and nonsensical sentences plague the book. I held out hope it would get better, but that was wishful thinking.

I think a good editor may have been able to save this book, because the bones of a good story are there.

One star - a big disappointment.
Emily Fields
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a bit of a slog. I didn't fall into it easily or enjoy it easily. I persevered and finished it, but it was bloody and a little convoluted and felt...wishy-washy? Watching person after person fall for someone's scheme gets boring after a while. ...more
George Irwin
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most Parts were very solid, and some parts needed work. A fantasy told in a parallel to the Roman Republic with intrigue, magic, and death.
Jesse McDermid
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well enough written, this book’s ending left a foul taste in my mouth. I cannot decide if I would read another book in the same storyline.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
There wasnt really anything bad about the writing itself or anything, I just personally did not care for this one.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I started it this morning and it immediately grabbed me to the point where I finished it before the day was done.
Jul 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
Ludicrous book. I kept putting it down and picking it up hoping to discover the plot. I never did figure out the purpose of the story.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm generally a sucker for authors that take another genre and then mix it up with fantasy. Ben Dobson's *Scriber*, which is basically a Da Vinci Code (i.e. search for clues to unlock a historical secret) + fantasy mashup, is another example.

This book is basically *Yojimbo* turned into a fantasy book. A new hired gun shows up in a town that has two rival gangs. He sets them against one another. Even though the story is a *too* derivative of *Yojimbo* I was willing to let it slide because I haven
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantasy is one of the genres that a lot of people have issues with. The reasons for this may be the fantastical elements, the shattering of the suspension of disbelief that may occur when a farm boy can slay dragons or the mere fact that the desire of the heart displayed in the tale is difficult to relate to. The best, of any genre fiction, are the stories that create something new, something different. In some fantasy novels it can be a strong sense of reality like the books by Joe Abercrombie, ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
So let me start off that I think my dislike for this book is a big case of it not being my cup of tea. While I didn't enjoy it the book definitely was not poorly written so if your considering picking up this book don't let that scare you away. Instead let me explain why this book didn't mesh with me.

First, I wasn't very found of the main character. While at many points of the story I found him clever or felt bad for him it still wasn't enough to make me like him. But it also wasn't enough to ma
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy books that play their secrets close to the chest, then this story will appeal to you.

Fast paced and clever story telling abound. Much like Keanu Reeves actually struggling to keep himself in bullets sold me on John Wick, Cassius use of back alley healers and stimulants to get through painful and grueling fights made this a very refreshing piece of fantasy.

Disclaimer: Be ok with ending with a lot of unanswered questions. I find it cheeky and compelling, but I could see a case being m
Ian Mathers
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rt, 2016
I went into this one with some real trepidation, and the first bit seemed to indicate I was right... real grimdark stuff with a faintly marty stu-type protagonist, a very real possibility I was in for something painful. And then as it kept going and got darker and less obvious and more complex and had less wish fulfilment and more politics and gained in intensity and speed, it turned into one of my more unexpected interesting reads of the year. That it eventually wound up sort of being (view spo ...more
Vinay Badri
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
A 3.5 starrer

Tales of revenge make for the most intriguing read esp if you get it even half right. The Burning Isles gets more than that right. Featuring a ruthless, moralistic and righteous lead in the cesspool of civilization determined to right old wrongs, the book proceeds at a frantic pace interspersed with flashbacks of Cassius' journey and the lessons he learnt

Imposing himself right in the middle of a gang war, Cassius plays both sides while furthering his ultimate ambition. The action an
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There's something so special about each class of debut YA authors; after all, young adult fiction is all about the hopefulness of new...
44 likes · 4 comments
“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he got lost.” “I” 1 likes
“I do not believe in the gods.” “That does not amount to much. Not when they believe in you.” Cassius” 0 likes
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