High fantasy has been my go-to genre for a couple of years now. This year alone, of the more than a hundred books I’ve read, half of them were either high fantasy or contemporary fantasy. It’s a genre that I hold near and dear to my heart. So when the call came for bloggers for the blog tour for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, a Filipino-led high fantasy, I literally jumped at the opportunity.
No joke, this book is one of the best high fantasy books I’ve read all year. And I’ve read more than a few kickass titles this 2019.
Just a little preface in case my actual message/review is buried in my haphazard asides: I LOVED Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger. It was riveting, emotional, and immersive. This book went far beyond my expectations and I went into this book expecting to like it. Spellslinger is a wonderfully magical book that stands out from other recent fantasy novels and is, in my opinion, offensively underrated.
That being said, watch me contrast it to possibly the most overrated fantasy series of all time.
I know that it’s trite and unfair to compare every book about a kid who can use magic to the Harry Potter series but hear me out for a second. Spellslinger might just be the anti-Harry Potter series that we didn’t know we needed. That’s right. I said it.
Whether de Castell intended it or not, most of the elements in the story are almost in complete opposition of everything the Harry Potter books stand for. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the two for a second. (Note: I’m looking at the HP series as a whole while only talking about the first book of the Spellslinger series. Uneven footing, yeah, but I feel like my point still stands.)
In Harry Potter, Harry was brought up in a strikingly non-magical household after the death of his parents. He starts learning how to wield magic and is quite a natural at wizardry. Harry quickly gains fame as a powerful wizard, though people expected nothing less from The Boy Who Lived. Harry immediately falls in love with the magical world and ultimately ends up putting his life on the line for his people.
Spellslinger goes in the exact opposite direction. Kellen grew up in a powerful magical family, both of his (living) parents accomplished mages in their own right. He was taught how to do spells since he was a kid but has always been rather mediocre at practicing actual magic (though he knows all the theories behind the spells to heart). Kellen quickly gains infamy within his clan as the weakest initiate. And, one of the biggest contrasts to Harry, Kellen, over the course of the story, slowly realizes that the magical society that he has loved all his life is actually really, really shitty.