Review of Rand by Silvia Shaw
This was a fun and entertaining fantasy book. I have been a fan of Maggie Brown for a while now. I have read most of the books she has released with Bella with In the Company of Crocodiles and Playing the Spy, being my two favorites. While I haven’t had much time to use it, I got one of those cheap deals on a three-month Kindle Unlimited membership. This was one of the first books I picked up as I’m always in search of fantasy and paranormal KU gems. It was not until I was offered a review copy of this book through LezReviewBooks that I was told that this is actually a Maggie Brown book. I had no idea when I got my KU copy, but I was really excited to hear that. Brown mostly writes romance and action romance so she took a chance to write fantasy, as an indie author, and I applaud her for that. I really like when authors step out of their lane and try something new. It might not always work, but in this case, I think it did. This book did have its share of bumps, but it was a very entertaining read. This isn’t hard-core fantasy by any means, but this is high-action fantasy. There is a ton going on and the book ended up flying by. I would compare this to the book version of watching an action movie. While you might roll your eyes a bit, if you don’t take it too seriously you are going to have a very fun time.
I have to be mention that I found the beginning of the book to be a little clunky. Some of the dialogue didn’t feel very smooth for me and I found a few of the situations the main character was put in to be too improbable even for a fantasy story. However, once Brown was able to settle the characters into the right situation, she was able to get the book moving and everything was much better. It only took me a few chapters to feel like I understood the new world and the story flowed better. The book didn’t feel very info-dumpy which is always a good sign since it’s hard not to info dump in fantasy. There is a lot going on in the story, and maybe too much, but it kept the book rolling. As I mentioned earlier, there were some bumps throughout the story and again they felt a bit more dialogue-focused. A character might say ‘go ahead and ask me a question’. Then after the question was asked the same character wanted to know ‘why the hell are you asking me a question?’ and some other smaller issues like that. This is Brown’s first indie book and I think these are the kind of things that would get noticed if she got a couple more beta readers. What ended up being most important to me is that while I feel I have to mention these issues, they didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story.
While there is one character that seems to be more of the star of the book, we get to be in the POV of the two main characters. What is nice about that is that one character is already in an established relationship, while the other has a chance for a new romance. Because there is no potential for romance between the two POV mains, you don’t care when the characters are apart on their own adventures. Since you are reading about one couple and one potential couple, when you include their partners it feels like the book really has 4 main characters. I don’t always do well with books that have more than two POV’s, but fantasy often requires many characters so having four mains but only two POV’s, was a nice choice that fit better for my personal tastes.
I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed three of the main characters. Each character has an important role in the story and they all felt very different with their own unique voices. I’m still on the fence about one character, I didn’t love her attitude, but I don’t want to say who she is as it is a tiny spoiler. When it comes to the start of the book I found her very easy to like however, she was a little Mary Sue-ish. Luckily for me, I honestly didn’t care. That’s not something that bothers me as long as a character isn’t a way-over-the-top kind of Mary Sue. I also think the fact this character was an academic and almost the complete opposite in stature of these warrior women around her, once she became more and more of a badass I didn’t mind as much because she didn’t start off perfect. We get to watch her character put in some work so it wasn’t like everything was just handed to her.
Both romances were fun to read about but there is more action/adventure than romance. I think I would say it’s a 60/40 or 65/35 split with the action/adventure being the bigger number. Brown knows how to write romance so there still was plenty there to keep me happy and I liked that there were two main relationships. The established couple had to deal with some turmoil in their relationship, while the new potential relationship was slow-burn. This is the first book of the series so Brown really took her time to build the romance from a first meeting to the potential for something real. I can’t wait to watch it evolve even more because this couple would be easy to ship.
I would recommend this one for fantasy and adventure fans. As long as you are into fantasy books that are high entertainment, but not hardcore fantasy, I think you would have fun with this too. I would not necessarily call this a gateway fantasy book –meaning that I don’t think it would appeal to even non-fantasy fans like a gateway book would- but I do think this would work for people who are still newer to the genre and don’t want to jump into a 1,000-page epic fantasy story yet. I enjoyed this book and I liked that it was fun and not stuffy. This is the first book in the series but it didn’t end on a cliffy. The first part feels complete, yet you know there are still big things to come. I think Brown did a nice job on how this story ended so you can absolutely read this now instead of waiting for all the books to come out. This book is currently on Kindle Unlimited.