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Edge of the Woods

Written by Andrew Rowe

Edge of the woods is in many ways a fun and masterful textbook on magic that goes deep into the world of Edge/Lien and his journey to gain a sword while exploring a system of magic carefully crafted for our enjoyment. 

The beginning of the book draws you in quite quickly. From the beginning it is obvious that Andrew is a wonderful writer, with many well regarded books already under his belt, his word-smithing is practiced and well done. As a specific call-out, I really appreciated how he describes his characters. I don't often look for or prioritize this part, as I don't often need to know how they look to enjoy the story, but the story handles this part very well. It isn't forced, but is instead spoon-fed to you throughout the narrative in a way that is appealing.

The characters were also really well fleshed out. I loved Ana's character, really enjoyed the sword saint, enjoyed the grandfather's banter, and thought several of the other characters were very well done.

Further to the above, and as the story progressed, I found myself more and more engaged in Edge's story. Pieces started to fall into place, and I enjoyed how the progression of his magic truly started to take shape. Towards the end of the book I found it harder to put down and was fully engaged in what would happen next.

I believe all reviews should also point out some detriments to a story in a way that is (hopefully) constructive. What I don't like may capture another person's interest, since we all have different tastes! With that said, I had a couple of main issues while reading what is a very entertaining story. The first is that the book employs a great deal of what I would call info-dumping. As stated, the book is very magic focused, and a lot of time is spent explicitly stating how things work. It works in the narrative, and is not always bad to read, but it happens a great deal in the book. Often, it slowed down the pacing of the story and made the beginning of the book difficult to get through at times. Second, and likely related to the above, was the pacing of the story. Some of the scenes, while often interesting, didn't seem to advance the plot. 

To finish on a positive, I loved several of the magical ideas, but absolutely loved the parts that dealt with 'memory' as a concept the most. Without going into spoilers, the use of memories both with the echos and with the application of the tools was very smart - truly. It's hard to pull those ideas off, and Andrew did an impeccable job.

Overall, I give the story a 3.9. I enjoyed the story, but some of the issues in the beginning of the book almost kept me from the really cool ideas that happen in the second half.

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