This review is based on a complimentary book I received from A.C. Cobble, Author. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.Benjamin Ashwood by A.C. Cobble
Series: Benjamin Ashwood #1
Release Date: May 26, 2016
Publisher: Independently Published
Source: A.C. Cobble, Author
Purchase at: Amazon
Epic Fantasy at its best. This classic swords and sorcery tale is inspired by Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and Tolkien's The Hobbit. If you liked them, you will love Benjamin Ashwood.
Life is simple in Ben’s small town until an attack brings the arrival of exciting strangers straight out of a story. Before Ben understands what is happening, he embarks on a dangerous journey to help his friends. A mage, demons, thieves and assassins are just a few of the perils he will face while trying to make it to safety.
But things aren’t always what they seem and safety is a fragile concept when the destructive behaviors of the powerful are exercised unchecked. In Ben's world - like our own - political, economic and military might create a system to keep the elite in power at the expense of the common man. As the series unfolds and Ben's knowledge and skill grows, he will have to decide if he wants to live within the system, flee from it or break it.
This story does indeed remind me of what I would consider a classic S&S (swords and sorcery) fantasy to be. From the beginning the action starts and it carries straight on through until the end. The main protagonist Ben has very little skills beyond what he would need for a simple life but when given an opportunity for something wild and greater than he could have ever expected he seizes the opportunity.
I enjoyed the fact that the author did not try to give Ben any special “super skills” that he had never known about but has finally been unleashed. In order for Ben to better himself he had to work for it to sharpen his skills and it did not happen over a period of two weeks. We were able to see a steady increase in his skills and that made him more real to me. The supporting characters were a hoot! Now they did have their super skills but that was appropriate as they were the teachers in this story. His travel companions all have their own secrets and Ben spends quite a bit of time trying to piece figure out where their loyalties lay and how they fit together.
“In the stories, the hero always saved the day and never had to face these types of decisions. You saw the monster, you fought the monster and you saved the innocent damsel. But what if the person you were trying to save was a bad person – a thief? What if the monster was really your friend and was actually saving you?”
Along the way there is death and loss. Ben has never truly had to consider or face the realities of what it meant to fight, what being a hero was truly about. He had spent so much time as a child listening to stories of hero’s that he never considered what the downside was. I loved watching Ben’s character develop and seeing him struggle with his humanity was a breath of fresh air so to speak.
What I did not like about this story was the lack of personal details. There was great world building but the details themselves rarely went beyond the initial “it was a forest of trees.” Now that is just an example of what I mean, not taken from the story itself but it will help to explain my point. Ok, I got it a forest of trees..but what about the type of trees, what season is it, are they full or have they shed their leaves, is it a dense forest, is the land flat or rolling? Details matter to me when I am reading a story. It is not that I do not have an imagination; it is that I want to know the world that has been built for me in all its glory. In the end I am glad for the journey. I think if this is made into a series that it will be truly enjoyed by all who read it!