Ascendant by Michael R. Miller: Book Review - The Fantasy Review

Ascendant by Michael R. Miller: Book Review

Spoiler-Free Ascendant Book Review

Ascendant by Michael R. Miller was a fantastic read! I was kindly sent a copy by the author earlier this year in exchange for an honest review, and I am so glad I finally got around to reading it!

Nostalgic Fun!

If you have read Eragon by Christopher Paolini, you might feel like you know the plot of Ascendant, but I can assure you that this similarity does not negatively impact the story at all.

Holt, the pot washer, becomes a dragon rider and goes on one hell of an adventure – not only do we get lots of time with dragons and an undead-like-horde, but there is even a wise old mentor and a princess who must confront her duty.

Ascendant is a lot of nostalgic fun, with enough unique and interesting aspects to make it something individual – something definitely worth reading!

ascendant book review

Wonderful Main Characters

Holt is our main character and the POV for most of the story and I thought he was fantastic. His personal development is great to watch unfold, from naive kid to hero – and this development is even more interesting through his relationship with his dragon.

I love the bond between dragons and their riders – that kind of relationship, the closeness, is so satisfying to see on the page. Not only do we get this with Holt, but also Talia, our second POV character, and having two different relationships like this shown to us at the same time highlights the similarities but also the differences.

Interesting Magic System

Progression fantasy is a subgenre that I have not read much of, and by that I mean I have read only one book in the subgenre before: Unsouled by Will Wight. I enjoyed the concept of progression fantasy, but was not 100% sure it was for me, as the progression seemed to take over the story.

This is not the case with Ascendant. The power progression of the main character and his dragon is more of a sub-plot, with the main story definitely being the stronger focus. I loved it! We get the exciting elements of progression fantasy, but with no negative impact on the story – it has definitely shown me what the subgenre has to offer.

The magic system itself is fascinating. Like some RPG video games, there is a lot of “grinding” involved to increase magical strength and advance to the next “level”. The method for developing magical abilities is well thought through and depicted in the story without being expositional – and there is still some mystery to it too, although I won’t say anything more about that because of spoilers!

A Great Setup for Future Books

This book felt like a homage to the dragonrider stories we have read before, but with plenty of unique and interesting qualities to make future books stand more on their own. The characters, magic system and world offer so much potential for future entries in this series – I am very excited to get onto the next one!

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Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

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