Kings. Dragons. The start of an all-consuming war.
As the twelve god-creatures appear in the world, nations brace for a inevitable struggle. Some have allied themselves with the Second Ascension in return for power and protection, but the Frith Guild aims to form a counter alliance.
Volke Savan, along with the other arcanists of the Frith Guild, must not only find a way to end the arcane plague once and for all, but prevent the remaining god-creatures from falling into the hands of their enemies. If the Frith Guild can form an alliance between powerful nations, and defeat the Autarch before he bonds with any god-creatures, perhaps a war can be prevented.
But the dragon arcanists of distant lands have come to challenge Volke and test his worthiness. Despite the ever-mounting pressures, and lack of time, Volke is determined to not only convince the world’s strongest arcanists of his worth, but to also defeat the god-arcanists of the Second Ascension long before the appearance of the dreaded apoch dragon.
What is Warlord Arcanist about?
In the latest installment of the ever fantastic Frith Chronicles, Volke introduces us to his new eldrin: the second ever world serpent. Ultimately, this book is mostly build up to what comes next. Volke once again has to train and learn how to use his talents after the previous five books demonstrated his skill with knightmare magic. Additionally, Volke struggles with grief, confusion, and anticipation for what is still to come. As an arcanist with a god-creature, Volke is put in a new political position and must deal with kings and queens as well as his trusted friends and advisers from the Frith Guild. Not to mention the rest of the god creatures still need to be found…
I think that for a book that’s more build up than the rest of the series has been, there are a lot of good decisions made by the author. Introducing Markus to give us more context for Calisto, showing Volke’s forced distance to the friends he’s made in the series rather than just having Volke tell us that he isn’t seeing them as often, as well as the many ways in which characters behave around him as a god arcanist are all great decisions that demonstrate that the series is completely transformed from where the first book started out. I enjoyed the rekindling of Volke’s love of adventuring tales by having him encounter arcanists he read about again–something he hasn’t really done since the first book. I also think the book does a good job of intermingling Volke’s mourning for Luthair with the rest of his thoughts. It makes sense that Volke can’t linger on Luthair, but that in many ways he has not moved on yet despite the world asking him to.
I’ll expand on the romance a bit in a later section, but I will say I love the plot point of “Volke is the single most desirable bachelor” because it’s adorable.
This should technically be in the “good” part because I’m sure this is the point but: the soul forge is the creepiest nightmare creature I have ever read about and every minute that it is on the page makes me shrivel up inside. That thing is terrifying, and as much as I would love to see a screen adaptation of this series one day I don’t think I could ever withstand the psychological damage of seeing that thing come to life.
One thing I’m struggling with is the romance aspect… From the very beginning there were a few relationships that were floated out, and due to the age of the characters those relationships were handled in an awkward manner that made sense. However, the sudden relationship for Volke as well as its implications is kind of…meh. In the first few books the insufferable teenage romantic emotions were kept to a minimum but also laid out a long term relationship: Zaxis pretty quickly decided Illia was an option and began pursuing her, in fact I think it’s safe to say that the only reason he bonded with Volke as much as he did was for Illia. Additionally, Volke’s admiration of Atty was well established in the first book and maintained for quite some time. I think the ending of Volke’s attraction to Atty made absolute sense in the story, but I am not sure that of all the options Volke had, it makes sense for him to so quickly settle on who he wants.
As usual, Shami Stovall captures me from the get go. Volke’s very emotional struggle with his new role is full of grief, longing, duty, and more. By this point, several of the characters have gone through major upheavals and are adjusting to new lives, but none more so than Volke. Despite this, the story manages to address the struggles of other characters as well, whether it’s Illia attempted to let go of her rage for pirates or Calisto softening up just a little bit for Markus. I am absolutely excited to see where the series goes next, primarily in regards to the next god creature that we get to see on page!