Way of the Argosi, Sebastien De Castell – Book Review

Hello Humans!

Quickly before we start just a reminder that if you want more detailed thoughts you can always check out my Booktube Channel where in this instance I posted an entire vlog just of me reading the Spellslinger series!

Because yes – there is a new book in town and this time it’s a prequel, many of us fell in love with the quick-talking wandering card player Ferius Parfax in the original series and now we get to read her origin story – but is the prequel worth reading?

Goodreads Summary:

A MERCILESS BAND OF MAGES MURDERED HER PARENTS, MASSACRED HER TRIBE AND BRANDED HER WITH MYSTICAL SIGILS THAT LEFT HER A REVILED OUTCAST. THEY SHOULD’VE KILLED HER INSTEAD.

Stealing, swindling, and gambling with her own life just to survive, Ferius will risk anything to avenge herself on the zealous young mage who haunts her every waking hour.

But then she meets the incomparable Durral Brown, a wandering philosopher gifted in the arts of violence who instead overcomes his opponents with shrewdness and compassion. Does this charismatic and infuriating man hold the key to defeating her enemies, or will he lead her down a path that will destroy her very soul?

Through this outstanding tale of swashbuckling action, magical intrigue, and dazzling wit, follow Ferius along the Way of the Argosi and enter a world of magic and mystery unlike any other.

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First up – what order should you read these books in? Do you go for the original series first (if you haven’t read them already) or do you start with #0.5?

I personally feel like reading the original six books in the Spellslinger series and then reading this is probably a better time than doing it the other way around. While this does take place chronologically ahead of the original books there are a fair few references to peoples and places that aren’t explained in the kind of detail you get in the original series. I don’t think that it would spoil the original series that much (maybe book one?) but it just wouldn’t be the wisest course of action in my opinion.

If you have read the original series and you’re wondering if a re-read is necessary my gut says no – provided you have a good enough memory of the very basic politics and alliances that make up this world at the start of the first book. I do recommend rereading the series anyway because it’s a good time but I wouldn’t say it’s essentially particularly if you aren’t in the mood for a six book saga right now.

Prequels are always a bit interesting, I think it may have been Neil Gaiman who said that he doesn’t want to write prequels because they can’t really go anywhere – the characters can’t have their issues resolved by the end because we know they have issues in the original story. So I was cautious going into this – I thought it might be ok given that we were following a character who does kind of have her life together (for a given value) in the original series so maybe this would be ok?

I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy reading this book, it was certainly interesting to build on the knowledge we have of both Ferius Parfax and the Argosi in general – and getting additional backstory is always something that’s good to have. The book was well written and apart from one moment of ‘ooh maybe we could have found a different word for ‘spirit animal’ given that is a thing in the real world that is deeply misunderstood and appropriated’ it was a good story.

I think perhaps the fact that I had just re-read the entire series did this book a disservice. Because, at least in this installment of the prequel (there is at least one more coming) there just isn’t the humour that really sells the original books. I mean I understand why, we’re seeing this character in such an angry and traumatic time it would be odd if she were already wise cracking, but the original series manages to balance those darker moments with more humour and while either is fine on it’s own when you put them back to back it’s a little bit jarring.

Which makes this rather hard to review because, on it’s own, this is a good book, a good story with a good character but in the context of the wider series it just didn’t quite feel like this fit? I’ll be interested to see what the next installment is like and if it bridges the gap a little better but for the most part I was left with the feeling of ‘this is perfectly fine but I’m not sure why it needed to exist’. I think what I want more than anything is not Ferius Parfax’s backstory but just a spinoff where she gets to be amazing – because we know she gets there!

If you’re a huge fan of this series you’ll probably pick this up anyway and I think you’ll have a good time if you aren’t expecting a similar tone to Spellslinger. If you were on the fence about the series you might love this – if what you wanted was more grit and less grin? It’ll be more of a personal choice than anything else.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars (could very easily go up to a 4 if the second one fits in well)

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.

The Way of the Argosi is out April 15th!

Find on Goodreads | Buy the Book (Affiliate Link)

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