Thank you NetGalley and Orbit for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.
When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.
But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he's fighting for the empire. (Amazon)
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Rating: 3.5 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
At the center of The Ranger of Marzanna we have the siblings Sonya and Sebastian, two very different people, tugged in very different directions amid the upcoming war in their land. Sebastian wants to be a soldier for the Aureum Imperial Army that has overtaken their land of Gogoleth in Izmoroz. Sonya wants to take down said army and free the Izmoroz people, eventually lifting them to the status that they once possessed.
Despite the fact that Sonya and Sebastian are the central figures in this story, they were the two characters that I had the most difficulty associating with. I could never quite put my finger on who Sonya was, between her bursts of eager friendliness and her mindless animalistic tendencies—which, did make sense, considering how the gifts of the Lady of Marzanna are granted. I think that we just did not mesh as reader/character. And Sebastian was unlikable; rather than raise above circumstances, he would behave like the child others thought him to be, and break into murderous tantrums whenever he would become upset. Whenever the two of them would come together in a scene, any maturity they might have retained would collapse into a mess of terrible comebacks and immature behavior.
Just because they're fighting for different causes, and are, in essence, enemies, does not mean that they need to act like ten-year-olds battling over a toy.
Among the rest of the cast, Jorge, Blaine and Galina were some of the most entertaining to read. Jorge was a great source of balance for Sonya's impetuousness, he's bright, sweet, loyal. Blaine is full to bursting of a strong warrior spirit, he's funny, and a lot more intelligent than he appears to be. And Galina is incredibly smart, a great tactician, and wonderfully manipulative. It doesn't sound like that last one is a good quality to have, but it fits her personality beautifully, and therefore complements her quite well. For me, those three drove the story.
The story itself was easy to get through despite its length, and I did want to know how it would wrap up, but it was dry for the most part. It's slow-going, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but there's a lot of nothing happening throughout. I really enjoyed the inclusion of the Lady of Marzanna/Morena/Mara/Morana in the plot, and her scenes were some of the best. She gives us enough of the disturbing darkness that portrays her role as goddess of winter and death in-story very nicely. But these scenes were far too few and far in between. Her appearance at the very end—alongside whom I assume to be the Uaine's god of death, Bás—was enough to make me want to read the second book, but this first one did not meet enough of my expectations.
All in all, it's a fair novel, I'm a huge fan of the Russian influence stroked into it, and I do want to see how things develop in the next installment. I just hope for growth in the future.
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