Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#Review - The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca #Fantasy

Series: Maradaine # 1
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: DAW/Penguin
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Urban

Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, debut author Marshall Ryan Maresca brings a fresh voice in his darkly original The Thorn of Dentonhill. Veranix leads a double life: struggling magic university student by day, and armed vigilante fighting organized crime by night. Veranix is an underdog battling to find justice against mages and drug lords far more influential and violent than himself. Maresca provides a street-level fantasy perspective, emphasizing the perils and pitfalls of urban life in a potent story about revenge and power.
Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.
With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.
So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

The Thorn of Dentonhill is the first installment in the Maradaine series by author Marshall Ryan Maresca. Protagonist Veranix Calbert has been compared to Batman and Harry Potter. I disagree. I think he's more like Robin Hood. Here's why. Veranix is a vigilante as well as a struggling magic student. His father was murdered, his mother was poisoned with a drug called effitte that has left her more of a zombie than alive, and the man who is responsible, Willem Fenmere, has been attempting to push his product into the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Maradaine which Vee attends.

There is so much more to Veranix than meets the eye test. I am thankful I had the opportunity to come back to the first two installments in this series, after reading book # 3, thanks to my library. Had I not, I would not have learned about how Vee ended up with a magical cloak and rope that have saved his butt more times than I care to count. Vee is a different sort of protagonist. After his family absconded from Aventil, he was raised in a traveling circus. He's good with a bow and arrow. He's like an acrobat who can quickly escape from dangerous situations. But, he also holds himself partially responsible for what happened to his parents.

He's also got a really interesting support system in place. Let me introduce you to Kaiana Nell. Kai is a half Druth, half Napolic groundskeeper at the university. She is also the only one who knows what Vee does at night and she knows that Vee is the Thorn. She is a character you need to pay attention to. Not just because of their relationship, because it's more of a best friend situation with familiar backgrounds and horror stories to tell rather than a romantic type. She can also more than hold her own against taunting and name calling.

As I mentioned, Vee is a 3rd year magic student at the University of Maradaine where he is roommates with the most intelligent student at the school; Delmin Sarren. Delmin is at the top of his class in all areas of magic study while Vee is struggling not to be kicked out. Delmin had zero clue that Vee is a vigilante until he can no longer hide what he's been doing from his friend and roommate of three years. In coming installments, you will understand why Delmin's knowledge of the Thorn is actually a good thing. There is one thing that separates the two however. Vee is a much more talented mage than Delmin is. 

Aventil is also the place where Vee's cousin Colin Tyson is a Rose Prince Captain. Think the Gangs of New York where you have a variety of gangs that are attempting to hold onto their own neighborhoods. In a way, they are more like a really large family instead of a bunch of desperate hooligans. Colin and Vee's relationship is super secret to the point where nobody knows. Especially after what happened to Colin's father. If anyone found out about the Thorn's true identity, all hell would break out. Colin and Vee's relationship really gets tested. Colin promised Vee's father that he would ensure Vee's safety and that he will graduate and not become one of the Rose Princes. 

But, it's really hard when Vee is the vigilante known as the Thorn who is trying his hardest to rid the streets of Fenmere and his toxic drug. This story is really a strong start to the series. It is a high fantasy academy adventure that's rarely been seen before. It focuses on the shadowy realm of organized crime and the gangs who call Aventil and Dentonhill home. Veranix aka Thorn is an extraordinary hero who is attempting to do near inhuman things in order to rid the world of Fenmere and his goons. Yes, this is a story of revenge. But, at the backdrop of the story is tragedy and violence and dangerous politics with plenty of action, magic, and relationships that are tested at every angle. 

1 comment:

  1. I love vigilantes, but I don't think I've read of any magical ones. Sounds intersting.
    sherry @ fundinmental