A captured slave, Eirick, crosses continents and battles an empire in this original world fantasy adventure. Eirick struggles to survive as human chattel as men in positions of power plot and scheme, with his path leading him to a man who may hold precious answers about his past.
The world and the nations in Ismark: The Marked Boy are all clearly developed so readers can visualize them quickly. The best part of JH Lillevik’s worldbuilding revolves around the diverse religions, faiths, and cults that populate this world. Though there are several mythical races in the story, they aren’t really involved in the narrative until the epilogue, which is designed to launch the story’s sequel. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of the world and the creatures within it than this first installment has allowed, as what has been established here is enticing and original.
The story’s biggest fault is there is a lot of telling and relatively little showing, given the amount of ground Lillevik is trying to cover. One character, whose point of view and separate adventures dominate several chapters, disappears from the plot in the middle of the book. There are also a number of typos and missed words. So while the world of Ismark is complex and captivating, there are some narrative glitches that do affect the flow of the read.
Overall, the novel is a fun read, with a well-designed fantasy world that has the potential to grow, so readers will want to pick up the next book in the series.