The Empire of Carthis is proud and confident in the knowledge that they are under the protection of the dragon god Carthis. Its nobles believing their dragon ancestry makes them superior to all others, have become arrogant and controlling of the very Church. Their arrogance has opened the way for great evil to insinuate itself into the very heart of the people. A young noble woman scared during a religious ritual is forced to face the reality of this corruption.
Penelope, a young noblewoman just come of marriageable age, is asked to take part in a ritual to awaken her dragon heritage, but all is not well. In moments her world is shattered when the ritual takes a turn for the worst. Now scared in both body and soul, she must learn to find peace within herself and deal with the truths and the task revealed to her by the dragon god Carthis.
I decided to give this book a try and I'm glad I did. It is an excellent and enjoyable fantasy with characters that were likable and believable. The pace of the story kept me reading all the way through the end. Being the first book he has published, the writing was a little raw, as were my first books. However, it wasn't to the degree where it interfered with the story.
The main character, Penelope, begins as a spoiled and somewhat irritating young woman, but after surviving a tragic situation becomes fascinating. The author succeeds in avoiding the Mary Sue treatment that some authors fall into (including, perhaps, myself). The development of her character is intriguing. It shows depth in the darkness she faces and the effects everything had on her. I found myself rooting for her to find happiness.
The supporting cast is just as interesting as Penelope. Mr. Kramer develops each character a little at a time rather than trying to rush them all together. While there are dwarves and gnomes and typical fantasy elements, they're given their own characteristics rather than being cliche. Well written dialogue adds to each and their personalities are distinct.
The world is presented to the reader in the beginning, but not in so much depth that it feels like an exercise in world building rather than the telling of a story. As time goes on, details are filled in. Mr. Kramer does it in such a way that I began to wonder what it would have been like to live in the world in previous times, which is when I realize I'm deep into the story.
The battles are intense and I genuinely felt fear for the survival of the characters. Magic and weapons of fantasy were realistic while fantasy creatures such as wyverns and dragons amplified the danger.
I'm very much looking forward to future books from Mr. Kramer.
This is safe for young adults, with mild fantasy violence.
About the Author
Ben Kramer lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife, two children, and two dogs. In the time that he has between working and being a husband and father, he writes his short stories and books.
Born the second of three children into a military family, Ben Kramer grew up an Army Brat with plenty of company and sibling rivalry. He first began writing in grade school and continued writing on into his teen years. His first writing ventures were mostly childish poems and he did not even have an interest in epic fantasy till seventh grade.
It was the works of Piers Anthony that opened the door for Ben to find his joy of the many worlds of fantasy to be found in books. From there on where ever he went you could be sure that a book was close to hand. Sadly, though he did attempt to write many stories of his own he never completed them. However, it was during his Junior year of High School that he began developing his world of Paratos. It is in this world which "Scars of Devotion" and his other short stories take place.
After serving in the United States Air Force, separating with the rank of Staff Sergeant, Ben settled down in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife to raise a family. To date Ben Kramer has officially published one book "Scars of Devotion", and has five short stories series that can be found on his website at
Ben can also be found on Patreon at www.patreon.com/benkramer
I have decided to review books that I enjoy. I am an avid reader of fantasy, so most of them will be in that genre. I'm not taking any requests, just reading what catches my eyes. You'll find that most of these are from Indie Authors. The way I figure it, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster and Piers Anthony (my favorite authors) already have enough reviews, but Indies could always use a few more.
It is important to note here that while I am a writer, I am doing these reviews as a reader. I also know a number of the authors I will be reviewing. This is not an exchange of reviews, nor have I been solicited by those authors to write the review. If I don't like a book, I won't review it.
All my best,
John H. Carroll