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In the Land of Magnanthia (Portals, Passages & Pathways Book 1) - B.R. Maul
I received this book through Goodreads' First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

I will start by saying, for an independently published book, this one is pretty impressive.

The writing itself was, overall, well-done, with minor grammatical errors, and the world building was intense.

The world set up for this book was crazy impressive. There is so much going on and the story is constantly changing. However, it didn't really feel like it went anywhere despite this. This book read more like a massive prequel than an actual novel. There was so much set up, but the plot never really got going. I don't really think much actually happened in the book. Maul just more or less set a bunch of things in place for the next book.

Don't get me wrong, the whole Chronicles of Narnia/Lord of the Rings thing was cool and the ideas were there, but the story just didn't move along enough for me to really grab my attention.

Plus, the story is split between following Simon and Jak, which works most of the time, but at times the information the reader learns overlaps between the two characters, making the text repetitive and unnecessarily long. I really don't think this book needed to be over 400 pages.

Speaking of repetitive, the overuse of certain words and phrases (caustic, I never want to read any version of this word ever again) was really grating to me. Throughout the book, the author proved that he could actually write so I feel like he was capable of coming up with more variety in his word choice.

I would recommend this book to people who value world building over plot and action. For me, the book felt like constant rising action without any actual climax or conclusion. But the ideas themselves were interesting. I think the second book is where the action is, but I don't know if I myself want to trudge back into Magnanthia after reading this one.

Maul creates a cool fantasy world and sets a lot of things in motion, but there wasn't enough follow through in this book for me to really get into it.