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.
I’m a Brooklyn-based author, lover of science and wit, sporadic scuba diver, and once and future tango dancer. My characters live only in my head, but they’re real, and I put them through hell.
Winner, First Place, Science Fiction/Fantasy, 2016 Writers Digest Popular Fiction Awards Finalist, Science Fiction, 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards & 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Honorable Mention, 2017 Reader's Favorite Book Awards
I absolutely loved that the word ‘sacrifice’ was in the title of A Wizard’s Sacrifice because there is much sacrificing that takes place throughout. I suffered right along with the characters and felt the anguish of their sacrifices. I also reveled in their successes and was uplifted with their joy. This is not just a tale about a sect of humanity who lost their way when they forgot their origins but there is a power struggle taking place that threatens to destroy all. To say that the twists and turns that this story traveled were unpredictable would be an understatement. It was both a beautiful and heart wrenching journey.
This review is based on a complimentary book I received from A.M. Justice, author. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
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.
I've read a couple of versions of this book, but I've sat on a review until cracking through the audiobook, where I think the story excels the best.
Novel. 4.5* Audiobook. 5*
It is an interesting tale, picking up from A Wizard's Forge, but not in a happily ever after sense. Vic is a closet wizard where wizardry is banned. Latha's other royal family are equally fraught. Queen Elekia is hanging onto power by her fingertips, Ashel is crippled with rapidly reducing future options, and Bethniel is the pawn in the governmental powerplay. The only positive is Lornk Korng is deposed and imprisoned and the war is over.
It should be the dawn of peace, but it is anything but. All the baggage from book one is dumped into the cauldron of political infighting, and a discontented populace struggling to make ends meet. The question of what happens when the soldiers come home that was dodged in the LOTR films, lands front and centre in what initially seems a successional crisis, but is the second round of a global conflict.
Then half the cast disappears down the rabbit hole...
The sci-fi elements in book one, plus the use of magic in a non-magical world are skilfully woven into a number of twisting storyarcs that give a widespread cast page time without being overly bloated. Current and past characters intermingle as legend and survival of the human race struggle towards each other, while fighting amongst themselves and their enemies.
Without giving much away, don't expect a disneyesque ending. Pretty much every character is tormented by their situation, the challenge ahead, or their lack of options. No-one is unscathed in a pretty punchy ending that is stunning in audioformat as it twists and shocks.
For me Earnk, is a tad underused, Ashel is tormented beyond the point he needs a good slap and Wineyll still annoys me. No-one is a hero, everyone is flawed and quite often events (and Parnden) get the better of the characters in the past and present. In that regard, the realism is brutal. Just like in STNG, Picard doesn't immediately recover after Best of Both Worlds. Here Everyone hates Lornk Korng, Parnden and Meylnara, and the damage accrued has a cumlative effect.
There is a lot to pull together, and if you're banking on the likely outcome, you may find things become worse and unexpected. Race and faction fight everyone, or stand inactive - unable to act. If the current world lacks magic, the old does not. If you like big booms, portals, siege warfare and tense, impossible situations, you can't go far wrong.
Tight editing, elegant prose and a seeming rampant desire to mess up every character in play hides a elegant storyline highlighting many human flaws. The heroes are the ones able to function. With luck they may stay standing, and in war - who can you trust.
There's plenty of life in this world if developed further, particularly the first contact.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Note: I was given this book as a ARC in exchange for a fair review.
A WIZARD's SACRIFICE by A.M. Justice is the sequel to the extremely enjoyable A WIZARD'S FORGE that came out a couple of years ago. The story covered the dark and gritty tale of a young scholar getting enslaved, escaping, becoming an assassin, and then gaining the power of magic. It also dealt with uncomfortable topics like Stockholm's Syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I really enjoyed the strange science fantasy world that the author has created. The planet was settled by human space travelers millennia ago, only to lose the majority of their technology and revert to a Medieval state. However, the planet also possesses a race of insectoid aliens who have a peculiar relationship to the local trees as well as access to world-changing powers related to the Woern parasites
The book opens with Victoria successfully crushing the slave-holding armies of Relman with the power of sorcery. Vic can and does level mountains with her power but each use of it is something that brings her closer to death. However, it seems like the price is well worth it since it allows her capture the evil nobleman Lornk. Lornk was the man who held her prisoner, chopped off the hand of her lover, and warped her entire sense of being with deliberate attempts to brainwash her with kindness.
Unfortunately, nothing remains good in Vic's life and she still suffers crippling guilt as well as self-loathing for the fact she survived where so many of her people did not. It causes serious issues in her burgeoning romantic relationship as well as contributes to her belief that any happiness in her life is fleeting. It doesn't help that sorcery is illegal and while many people know she is a magic-user, public revelation would lead to her exile.
A.M. Justice is a master of both melodrama as well as high stakes political intrigue. The conflicts among the feuding families include illegitimate children, long-dead romances, gaslighting, and complicated webs of personal intrigues. Lornk is a particularly well-designed villain as he attempts to frame his every action for the greater good while fostering fatherly or romantic relationships with his worst enemies. His greatest skill is that he can portray himself as a well-intentioned extremist and misunderstood progressive versus the narcissistic psychopath that he actually is.
The blend of science fiction and fantasy is well done with a large portion of this book's plotline dealing with time-travel in addition to magic. Science and magic are not portrayed as enemies in this world but simply the case of the latter being something wholly inexplicable to the human colonists. Much humor is derived from the fact that the predominate religion in the region is from a misunderstanding of the records relating to the original spacecraft that brought them here. Even then, enough bizarre and miraculous events confuse "heretics" like Vic who believe in a space-based origin for mankind.
Secondary characters from the first book have much bigger roles this time around with my favorite being Bethniel. The daughter of Latha's ruler, she is attempting to prove herself but finds herself continually overshadowed by Vic's deeds. Everyone has their own plots and counter-plots, though, which makes the book a vibrant as well as engaging read.
In conclusion, I very much enjoyed this book and suggest preordering it. It is full of politics, twists, and turns as well as more than a few doomed romances. These are all things I enjoy reading about.
The sequel to A Wizard’s Forge, picks up after the vicious destruction of Olmlabaire, the Relmlord’s fortress within the city, and continues Vic’s reign of vengeance to destroy the Relman forces, capture or kill the Relmlord who victimized her, and end a twenty year war between the kingdoms of Relm and Latha. The respite is short lived for the people of Latha, as plots within plots unfold and secrets are revealed.
Through the Devices, instant transporters built thousands of years ago and left littered across the continent, the author adds an entirely new element to the story with time travel. The common portal trope is taken and turned on it’s head with a refreshing new look.
The deeply insightful characterizations really shine and the well written prose makes the book flow well through multiple POV’s. The storyline and plot are riveting. The pacing is relentless and tense, with such high stakes you’ll be chewing your nails. The emotionally charged motivations of each player are beautifully expressed and will keep readers deeply invested in each of them.
The strange insectoid race of Kragnashians are featured quite heavily. We learn many secrets, and twisted truths about them. Before the end of the story, we are blasted by the truth that lay within the true history of Knownearth.
A Wizard’s Sacrifice is highly charged with emotion, magic, alien life forms, time travel, and the violence of warfare. A seamless blending of science fiction fantasy and a gem of the sub genre. Pick up your copies today and prepare for a journey that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book on the last page. The author has surpassed themselves and eclipsed the first installment.
This book made me cry. I’ll never forget this journey. Ever.
A Wizard’s Sacrifice brings back all of the action, romance and complex threads that were prevalent in the first book of the series, and A.M. Justice does it all with the same strength of detailed storytelling. Each scene is flavour to the five senses, which works equally with the quieter and action-packed moments alike. Leah Casey returns as the audiobook narrator, and once again delivers it all expertly in perfectly-produced audio, bringing the characters and scenes fully to life. There’s no need for me to write a long review, just enough to say that anyone who enjoyed A Wizard’s Forge will equally enjoy A Wizard’s Sacrifice whether you’re reading it or listening to it.
I received an ARC of this book and reviewed it for the fantasy-hive.
This is the second book in the woern saga but, although I hadn't read the first book, I found I could pick up the key world and story elements in what is quite an immersive approach to fantasy world building.
Justice has a rich cast of characters in a world of complex magic and politics, such that no-one, no matter how evil they may appear is entirely bereft of redeeming features, even if it is only a knowledge of their own ethical inadequacies.
The blend of magic and technology, of humanoid and insectoid, of past and present make this a headily fantastic mix.
Wizard’s Sacrifice by A. M. Justice This is a sequel to A Wizard’s Forge. A interstellar ship is marooned at a planet with an indigenous population. Later, the population has splintered living some who believe they descended from trees. Due to an internal parasite, some people show wizard talents and this is illegal in many places. Vic the protagonist in the first book suffers a bit of a demotion in this book. Somehow I’ve got this feeling that these two books should be four. Perhaps that is the direction the author plans. The orbiting star craft seems like a loose end. The devices origin is murky. The mind of the trees is too unexplored. Is it a collective mind, is it part of the indigenous species mind? I ended up with more questions than answers. I think the characters were good but I just had issues with the overall plot.
In a fit of whimsy, I hereby announce I will give everyone five stars, but the reviews may not reflect it.
I liked A Wizard's Forge well enough. Despite the higher rating (the law of diminishing returning readers), I liked A Wizard's Sacrifice less so. I'm not quite sure why. I'm not so sure the story progressed as much as in the previous book nor did the characters' issues. It was still pretty good and the narrator did a reliable job, but a step back in my amateur opinion.