About the Book:
Title: The Wizard’s Ward
Author: Jules McAleese
Series: Vale #1
Page Length: 307
Publication Date: April 30, 2022
Synopsis: Francis has gray blood.
The King of the Elves ordered all gray bloods be put to death, by any means necessary. Francis, the Wizard’s Ward, has been hiding in plain sight all her life, under the care of Billington, the King’s wizard. When Billington disappears from the Cardinal castle, Francis enlists the help of her first love, a battle-ridden soldier called X, to find the only family she’s ever known.
But outside the castle walls, there is a war raging between kingdoms and Francis faces countless dangers that plague the land of Vale. Shapeshifting bounty hunters search for military deserters, pirates maraud Vale’s seas, combat-trained dragons dwell in the witch’s mountains, and betrayals harden once-warmed hearts.
As the journey pushes Francis to her limits, she uncovers the true power of her gray blood, a power that could fulfill a prophecy and bring down a psychotic king.
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The Wizard’s Ward is the story of Francis, a young woman with grey blood in a world that ordered all grey bloods murdered years ago. When her ward Billington goes missing, Francis invokes the help of a childhood friend to find him. Throughout her journey, Francis learns more about herself and her unusual blood, the war-torn country she lives in, political plots, and more.
Francis goes through so much over the course of the story, and her journey is exciting, dangerous, unexpected, and emotional. I loved her character and the immense growth she goes through. Her character is layered and interesting, and I feel like there’s so much more she (and the reader) will learn as the series continues. She is a strong, smart, and loyal protagonist who fights for the people she loves. Protective and resilient, Francis travels through a war-torn land riddled with dangerous and potentially deadly situations, and she won’t give up until she finds her father figure. I love her ferocity and determination, as well as her willingness to believe the best in people.
Francis has been treated unfairly by many people in her life, and she has a secret that could lead to her demise. Raised and protected by Billington, the King’s Ward, Francis doesn’t realize how much he means to her until he’s gone. And when she suspects he didn’t leave of his own free will, she determines to find Billington. This relationship propels the plot and highlights messages about family, loyalty, and love.
The relationship between Francis and X is another intriguing and complicated one. Though childhood friends, they haven’t seen each other in quite some time, and X is very different from the boy he used to be. The pair go through many trials and tribulations as X aids Francis in her quest to find Billington. I was so intrigued by this relationship and all the unexpected revelations that resulted from it. Like Francis, X has been through so much, and his harsh reality has irrevocably changed him. What he went through while he was away was heart-breaking! X struggles with his feelings toward his duty and his desires, and there are several unexpected twists in his actions. I’ll be curious to see what happens with X and his relationships in future books.
The story introduces the reader to many secondary characters, some who are very easy to hate, and others who endear themselves to the reader despite their faults. I love that Francis finds people who treat her better and respect her more than some of the vindictive people she’s grown up with. I also really enjoyed the world-building. Vivid and unique, Francis’s journey takes her to many new places, each as easy to picture as the one before it. McAleese has a way of creating strong visuals of the setting that really immerses you into the story. I also love the fantasy elements, from wizards, witches, elves, and dragons to unique abilities and beings.
The Wizard’s Ward is an entertaining, well-paced YA fantasy with complex characters and a protagonist you can root for. Plus, the ending has a few surprise twists that I totally didn’t see coming! Thanks to Jules McAleese for gifting me a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The character development.
- The fantasy elements.
The fire that warms us, the same fire that gives us light and entertains us, can consume and destroy.
Fear is a masked enemy, befriended by the weak. A true warrior welcomes the battle, focusing on their purpose, not the enemy.
I would recommend The Wizard’s Ward to readers who enjoy YA fantasy.
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