The Burning Isle by Will Panzo

Posted October 28, 2016 by Minx

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

The Burning Isle by Will Panzo The Burning Isle by Will Panzo
Genres: Fantasy
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Ace
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 432
ISBN: 110198810X
Purchase at: Amazon
Minx's Rating:

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 haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…

But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This a treacherous island where the native gods are restless, and anything can happen…


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, Cassius came across to me as an emotional neutral. No matter the situation going on around him Cassius was always even and in control. So there was no emotional connection and though I enjoyed the story thoroughly it was not gripping.

I loved the magical sparring and spell casting! The violence in this story can be very intense but it is necessary for the island of Scipio. The setting of this story is on an island that is the last place a person lands after a lifetime of bad decisions. There is no place else within the republic for the inhabitants of this island. They are referred to as “debtors, criminals and exiles.” This is a dark fantasy and it lives up to that label and then some.

There were parts of the book that were very descriptive but on other parts where it could have been descriptive it was not. An example that will not spoil anything for you is were the main character has a reaction after spell casting and the reaction is referred to as “fits” and “I’ve got the falling-down sickness.” That is not awful but I feel like it was generic and could have been written differently. That is a personal preference which is why I wanted to bring it up, it may not matter to you.

Trust me, pay attention to all the characters you come across. They will be back, even if you think that they have played their part, lol, don’t be fooled. They will be back. There is a wide variety of characters that make up the cast of this book. This could be a negative for readers who do not enjoy having to keep track of many characters.

Hands down this book needs to be made into a movie. I believe that it could be a visually stunning movie! It would also go far to visually explain some of the minutiae that I believe that the author was trying to express that never made it to me. I will tell you that the ending leaves you going Hmmmm? Maybe it is going to be made into a series and that would make more sense. Overall, this was an action packed fantasy set in a world where you can trust no one and it will engage you to the bitter end!

*Thank you to NetGalley & Berkley Publishing/ACE for this eARC of The Burning Isle*

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