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Benjamin Ashwood (Benjamin Ashwood #1)

Write on: Tue, 24 Oct 2017 by  in SPFBO - ROUND 1 15928 comments Read 266075

This is a sword and sorcery tale, with a good amount of sword and little sorcery. It has a nice action-packed opening, with our hero the farmboy Benjamin helping his village folk battle  a demon attacking their village. Shortly after, a strange group shows up, featuring a stern mage lady, a blademaster, an affable rogue and a noble girl with her maid. One can see the Wheel of Time influence, but it didn't feel derivative at all. The characters and the general atmosphere were different enough. 

Benjamin sets out with this group to help take his adopted sister to the City, where she will go to the mage school.The fighting scenes, action, adventures, political intrigue, journeys, city and market scenes are top notch quality and the book is a solid page turner. One great thing about this story is, the main protagonist is just a simple brewer from some backwater village. He has no special powers, no prophecies, no magic. He is not a chosen one or savior. He listens to his mentors and learns skills with hard work and daily practices. This was quite inspirational stuff, no special powers coming out of thin air, but with disciplined work and dedication. I really liked this about the story. 

Ben is likeable enough, but my favorite characters overall were Rhys, the mercenary rogue, and Renfro, the little thief friend of Ben. However, as fun as it was to read, Benjamin Ashwood has quite a few issues.

For one, I found the female characters weak and nondescript for the most part. Amelie is quite flat, even though she is supposed to be important. Lady Towaal had potential in the beginning, but she is mostly absent and hardly talks. The story is engaging, but infodumps, a couple of opinionated parts and way too modern vocabulary sours the experience quite often. This book could be so much better with a good editor.


Ford (river ford) is spelled fjord more than once. 

There is sushi and tempura, even though mentioned only once each, it comes off as lazy and very much out of place in a sword & sorcery story with pre-modern setting. I could overlook those, but then the phrases like "frugal lifestyle" and "tax dollars" sticking out like a sour thumb made that impossible.

Another issue I had was the girls throwing themselves at Ben. There was one one night stand sex scene, which came out of nowhere and served absolutely no purpose, left me scratching my head. The book is a a bit formulaic overall, but there are some nice twists and great city scenes. Since the book description says it is a classic sword and sorcery, I didn't expect deep character relationships or complex characters. I found a much better story than I expected, and it was overall a fun read except for a few infodumps and opinionated tirades that could be left out. The book pretty much delivers more than the description promises, making it a great piece of some light reading. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 11:55
Leona Henry

I’m a Linux admin by day and fantasy writer by night. I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey and relocated to San Jose, California in 1999 to work in the tech industry there. After living in California and Texas, I moved to Finland in 2013. I have a book review blog and currently working on my first fantasy book.