Fatemarked by David Estes is the first of five in his Fatemarked Epic series. Something special is definitely happening here and Fatemarked serves as an excellent introduction to the series. To put it simply, this is what someone would label as a traditional epic fantasy. You have everything from knights, impregnable castle fortresses, princes, princesses, kings and queens, boat sailing, lots of horse back riding, roadside thieves, ale houses, political scheming, sword and melee skirmishes, tournaments, a magic system, dragons and the list goes on. You get the point. If you’ve never liked epic fantasies before, then I highly doubt this book will change your mind. But if you do, I suggest giving it a shot. At the time of this writing, Fatemarked is free for all Amazon Prime members to enjoy.
Story wise, I thought it could have been a bit more intriguing but what it did manage to accomplish is making me interested enough in wanting to continue with the series to see how it progresses. Honestly, you’re getting the usual treatment here with having the wrong king or queen take the throne from the rightful heir, secret killings done to protect the greater good and characters meeting up at certain point as dictated by fate, etc. It’s a little above average at best with the author having played it a bit safe it felt like. The magic system of the Fatemarked offers a lot of flexibility and I found it comforting knowing that it was not severely relied upon for every single action piece nor was it overdone. Too much of something can be detrimental but it struck a good balance here. I’m secretly looking forward to seeing if this magic system will be expanded upon in the next book.
What I loved after having finished the main story is the author including a free ‘postlude’ for some of the characters. This gave us a backdrop on how some of the characters came to be as well as showing us how certain major events unfolded through the eyes of the character involved. In the main storyline, some of those events were mentioned only in passing but never expanded upon. I found myself really having enjoyed these short reads as they were quite entertaining and added some depth to the characters although a lot of them only had a little book time.
Characters. If you don’t make them interesting in a story of any kind, it will be hard to get into. This is especially true when you have epics such as these where you’ll need to follow at least five to six different characters and more throughout. I think the author did an okay job here. Majority of them are teenagers but being that Fatemarked can also be considered a dark fantasy, I wouldn’t exactly label this YA. You’re obviously going to get some of that teenage stuff here and there but I wasn’t particularly bothered by it. The characters are thrown into harsh conditions and situations early on that requires thinking and a whole lot of growing up and fast at that too. One character I did not particularly enjoy reading however was the thief Grease Jolly. Luckily for me, his role did not have as big a part as the others but if that changes in the next book, hopefully it will be for the exciting. One criticism I did have is not having a central character to hate on! An epic fantasy is incomplete without one character that just makes you want to jump in and smack them silly! Heroes are obviously required but it has always been my opinion that a stronger villain actually makes or breaks a story.
Fatemarked as I said in the beginning serves as a good introduction to a promising series. I have some reservations about it and hopefully book two will let me know if I should invest in the rest. On a side note, I was shocked a bit to discover the author having moved and residing in Hawaii. I don’t remember the last book I’ve read from an author living in the same state as I am.