Blog Tour & Review: Exile by A.J. Calvin

Title: Exile by A.J. Calvin
Series: The Caein Legacy
Genre: Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Pages: 265
Published: May 24, 2023
Publisher: Self-Published

Content/Trigger Warnings:

Shown on Page (things clearly told to the reader):

  • Attempted murder
  • Blood
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Violence

Alluded to (things only mentioned in passing or hinted at):

  • Domestic abuse
  • Murder
  • Questionable sexual consent
  • Execution

Book Blurb:

Andrew grew up in the royal palace of Novania, the eldest son of the queen. He went on to achieve fame and glory as a renowned soldier, and was eventually named commander of the king’s army. The kingdom believed he would be named heir to the throne, but he has long known he is ineligible. The king is not his father.

The truth of Andrew’s lineage is only partially known to the king; the identity of his father is a mystery that even Andrew is unaware of. He knows only that his father was a dragon-mage, and the dragons have fled to another world. Andrew is a skin-changer, but the laws of Novania forbid his very existence. If the king were to learn the truth of what he is, he would face execution.

The laws are equally hostile to humans born with the Mark of the Magi and the ability to wield magic. Andrew’s younger half-brother, Alexander, bears the Mark. The pair keep one another’s secrets into adulthood…Until the king dies unexpectedly and Colin ascends the throne.

When Alexander’s Mark is revealed for all to see, Andrew is faced with a choice: To watch his brother be killed or reveal his true nature in an effort to save him from the headsman’s axe.

Exile

My Review:

Exile grabbed me from page one. I wasn’t sure what to expect and yet before I knew it, I was eagerly reading every page dying to see what would happen next.

We see the world from Andrew’s perspective. He’s a loyal soldier to the king and kingdom but he has a secret that he’s had to keep his entire life – one even the king is unaware of. Having the stress of hiding that secret for decades would certainly wear on anyone, and while Andrew has done well to keep anyone from finding out, it’s clear that it’s something on his mind regularly.

Being such a renowned and influential soldier, Andrew finds himself in the heart of conflict more often than most. His proficiency in battle is obvious and is a key component of his character as a whole. He is a natural protector and that shines throughout the book, especially when he is around two of his younger half-brothers, Alexander and Thomas. He will do anything to protect them – including putting himself in danger.

The same cannot be said for his other half-brother Colin. Colin is a horrible person, and while I tend to love most villains in stories, Colin takes being evil to a whole new level and I can’t help but hate him just as much as Andrew does.

The four brothers really are a mixed bag of personalities and abilities and it’s interesting to see how those differences play a role in how well they mesh together or conflict with each other. While we don’t see much from Thomas, his contributions are key to the story and to Andrew’s mission. I can see him playing a bigger role in the remainder of the series.

Watching Andrew navigate the world, adjusting to changes in his life, striving for happiness, dealing with grief, and struggling with reality all combine into a fantastic story. There was a moment when I wanted to story to stop, so Andrew could live a happy and serene life, filled with love and minimal fears of Colin’s treachery, but I knew that wouldn’t be the case. At least he had some peace and love for a short time.

The numerous characters that Andrew meets along the way have long-lasting effects on him, some positive while others are negative. Yet, together, they all help to mold him into the man he must become to save the day. He does have his flaws, and while they are few, they make him who he is. I do feel he is sometimes too quick to forgive those who wrong him, but perhaps that is his way of not being burdened by other matters and allows him to focus on his current tasks.

I do wish we could have seen more of the Corodan, a bug-like race who has been the enemy of Novania for a long time. Their part in the story was small but had quite a large impact. I do wonder what will become of them as the series progresses.

Another race introduced was the Merael. Once again, we only see them for a short time but I believe they will have some significance going forward and I look forward to seeing exactly what role they will play in Andrews’s story.

I loved the balance between action and quieter times. It made the entire story flow well, allowing time for events to build up to a battle and then having that calm recovery after, yet knowing more was to come. The way A.J. Calvin upped the ante throughout kept me thoroughly entranced.

I enjoyed how we learned more about the world, as Andrew journeyed and learned about it. It felt like I was there discovering those same things with him.

Along with that, when the magic system was explained, a lot of what had been hinted at previously clicked into place. Obviously, because of the laws against magic users, the people in Novania know little about magic, and thus so does the reader. So we get to discover exactly what it means for those who bear the Mark along with Alexander and Andrew.

As the first book in a series, Exile does a fantastic job of introducing us to the main players of the story, setting up hints of what will come, and setting the tone of what we can expect for Andrew, Alexander, and the kingdom of Novania.

The way A.J. Calvin writes truly makes this book. I couldn’t help but find myself cheering along with Andrew and his two brothers when times were good, while also falling into his anger, frustration, pain, and grief as his idyllic life is shattered and he is set upon another path of danger. The way everything flowed so smoothly from beginning to end, kept me fully absorbed in the story and I didn’t want it to end.

I absolutely loved Exile. It had everything I look for in a good book, great writing, intriguing characters, a fast-paced plot, and a touch of magic. I cannot wait to continue this series and have added the next book to my TBR.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers participating in the Exile Book Tour.

Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BYXHGJ4T

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/exile-a-j-calvin/1143231978

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Exile/A-J-Calvin/9798988319337

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/exile-148

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/exile/id6446454425

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/75860903-exile

Author Bio & Information:

A.J. Calvin is a science fiction/fantasy novelist from Loveland, Colorado. By day, she works as a microbiologist, but in her free time, she writes. She lives with her husband, their cat, and a saltwater aquarium.

When she is not working or writing, she enjoys scuba diving, hiking, and playing video games.

Website: www.ajcalvin.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCalvin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAJCalvin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorajcalvin/

 

4 Comments

  1. Sounds like there is plenty to keep you enthralled with this book. I like a book with good character development. By the time you throw in action scenes and a bit of magic you have a great read.

    1. Author

      Yes, there was lots going on to keep my attention solidly on this book. Good character development is a must in books. Highly recommend checking this one out.

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