The Cursed Titans (Tempest Blades Book 2) by Ricardo Victoria

The triennial Chivalry Games have returned! After helping to destroy the Withered King, Alex and the rest of the group find out that saving the world has consequences. While he is secretly battling with depression and with the Alliance on the verge of collapse, a diplomatic summit and the Chivalry Games—to be held in the far off Kuni Empire—may give everyone the opportunity to turn things around. Alex builds a team to represent the Foundation in the Games, facing off against the best fighters in the world. When an ancient being tries to raise legendary nightmares known as Titans using the peace talks as a trap, Alex has to find a way to save everyone before it is too late. Alex must learn that he is not truly alone to save the world from the chaos of the Titans. In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Cursed Titans is book two of the Tempest Blades series. I will do my best to avoid major spoilers for book one, but there might be one or two. You can find my review for book one (The Withered King) here.

One thing that I really enjoyed about book one was the subtle themes of redemption, and the ability to have that second chance that was included in an otherwise action-packed story. The Cursed Titans managed to again bring a deeper meaning into an action-packed storyline. In this case, it was mental illness.

It is difficult to find respectful depictions of mental illness in fiction, even more difficult to find it in the fantasy genre. Every time I see an author who uses mental illness as more than a prop in a story, I am incredibly impressed. Author Ricardo Victoria masterfully wove a story of depression, hope, and redemption in with a world filled with villains and magic.

Gaby was my favorite character in The Withered King. She was pretty high on the kick-butt-o’meter. However, it was Alex who stole the show in this book. I could identify a little bit with his battle with depression, although the way it is portrayed in The Cursed Titans is infinitely more creative and interesting than my depression happens to be. He had quite a bit of character growth, which I always appreciate.

Of course, this theme of mental illness was set against a unique backdrop, which had a bit of a My Hero Academia feel to it. I don’t know why that jumps to mind for me, but it does. I happen to love My Hero Academia, so I was jazzed about that. Combine that with the epic video game vibe that carried over from book one, and The Cursed Titans was a win for me.

I was very impressed at the way the author balanced a fast-paced fantasy book with what feels like a deeply personal exploration of depression, its effects, and what it truly means to overcome. The Cursed Titans was very well done.

Tempest Blades: The Withered King by Ricardo Victoria – ARC Review

Image result for tempest blades: the withered king

Thank you to the author and Shadow Dragon Press for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on August 20th.

This book is centered around Fionn, wielder of the sword Tempest Blade. He has kind of dropped out of life after his past fills him with loss and an overwhelming sense of guilt. He gets a chance to set things right when his friend, Harland asks for help finding a missing person. Fionn has unique abilities that make him an invaluable asset, especially where magic is concerned.

Fionn was a fun character. He had that self-loathing part of him, but he was also well aware of his abilities and how useful he could be. It was a good juxtaposition, one that was balanced skillfully. On his own, Fionn might have been too much, but the addition of two other characters- Alex and Gaby made the story work. Alex was well written  but Gaby is the one who stood out. Her skills at butt-kickery made her a blast to read. It’s always a pleasure to read a character like that.

The story read a bit like a video game- and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It was a fun, fast book, full of action beats. It was also surprisingly introspective and deep. As entertaining as it was, this is ultimately a book about second chances. I found it highly enjoyable.