“The Shadow of the Staff: A Wizard’s Revenge” by critically-acclaimed author M.A. Haddad is a mystical tale of sorcery, grandiose adventure, eons-old lineages, self-discovery, and the never-ending shift between peace and war among the races of the ancient magical realm of Hatu. It explores the adventures of Burton Brew the Myopian – the last Brew descendant to have carried the Great Staff of Power, as he and his comrades find themselves in a precarious predicament that’s part of something much bigger than they ever could have imagined – a realm-threatening force that transcends time and lineage with a vengeful bloodlust for retribution. Published by Vantage Press in 2011, M.A.Haddad’s “The Shadow of the Staff: A Wizard’s Revenge” is a masterful and worthy addition to the fantasy genre.
Burton Brew is accompanied by his mentor, a ranger named Tordin, as they take a one-month journey to the land of Fallquint to attend an ancient Elf tradition that’s held every 500 years – a ceremony celebrating the heritage of those who bravely fought in the great war of the beginning times. The elves commemorate the historical significance of Burton’s ancestor Milton Brew in the downfall of the evil wizard Porttia and his empire when he destroyed the Great Staff of Power. Their celebratory journey takes a perilous and unexpected turn for the worst when he is tasked with delivering a message from the Elf Lord Mindeloria of Fallquint to the Dwarf King Thuron of the Mystic Mountains. Along the way, they make new allies as they find themselves caught up in the crossfire of a grand-scale, future-deciding conflict that could turn the tides of their realm’s history for eons to come. The decisions they make, the events that transpire throughout their journey, the animosity among races relinquished, and the strength of alliances restored out of necessity all serve a significantly vital role in one of the most important wars in the history of Hatu. In a valiant last stand against all odds, the culmination of this intense build-up of tension finds the main characters in a position where their very actions determine the fate of their entire universe.
Burton and his new allies endure increasingly dangerous skirmishes with orcs and many other obstacles as their personal missions and intentions become intertwined with the uncannily threatening force that drives their foes – one that has shown its sinister face once before in the legendary days of old, remembered only by the select few who still retell the myths and stories of those that came before. History repeats itself before their very eyes as Burton and his comrades unravel mysteries about themselves, their heritage, and their individual roles in the conflict at hand as they progress towards their goals in the face of an ever-increasing threat to their people, their realm, and their collective freedom.
One particularly noteworthy aspect of M.A. Haddad’s storytelling is his interpretation of mankind’s historical inability to learn from past mistakes, which is a definitive aspect of our species that the book’s plot is centered around. It highlights and emphasizes the endless generational cycle of territorial war and constant conflict over resources and power – a harsh reality impressively paralleled with cunningly-accurate precision in the realm of the book’s universe. This sets the perfect basis for the emergence of an age-old threat that returns with a vengeance that won’t be quenched without fighting the good fight; without bloodshed and insurmountable sacrifice on both sides – a symbolism of yin and yang in the ever-shifting state of chaos and order that’s observable in a universe much like our own. In M.A. Haddad’s fictional realm of Hatu, a divided and war-torn society bridging on the edge of all-out conflict, the warring nations and feudal races set aside their differences and age-old grudges to stand together in a battle against a greater evil and a common foe – one that knows no race, only destruction and lust for power in the pursuit of retribution from an ancient fall from grace nearly forgotten in time. It is through the strength and resilience of these new-found alliances among ex-enemies that they overcome adversity through unity and teamwork, collectively committing themselves to making the ultimate sacrifice – an all-out war in the pursuit of restoring peace and balance throughout the realms – a monumental price to pay for the greater good of all existence.
Aside from being an immersively allegorical parody of the repetitive history of humanity, the book’s lore and mythology as well as its premise and setting are all mystically-detailed and nostalgically reminiscent of the enchanted sorcery and magic that we see in the World of Warcraft-esque fantasy trope – one that many of us have come to love and enjoy in movies, books, TV-shows, board games, and video games (similar to the likes of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Dungeons & Dragons, Game of Thrones, and Skyrim). This book definitely caters to fans of this genre, portraying a solid medieval-fantasy story with the familiar creatures and beings that we’ve all come to recognize in this flavor of storytelling.
The interrelatedness among the occupying races of the realms (mainly: humans, dwarves, elves, trolls, wizards, orcs, and other creatures) vary diversely as the mythical beings of this universe, in true fantasy-novel fashion, tend to have societies that live and thrive for spans of thousands of years. The relationships between these races are as diverse as the story’s vastly detailed history and mythology itself. The beings of the realms have lived through countless generations of political tension, peace and war, feuds and alliances, and the constant struggle to coexist in harmony – and because of this, they’ve developed deep-seated animosity towards one other, while some have formed impenetrable allegiances through the favor of rulers and battle-hardened bonds of brothers in arms standing against a common enemy. At the same time, the different races of the realms show an intense reverence and appreciation for history and heritage, celebrating and honoring the bloodlines of those that descend from mighty kings, powerful wizards, and valiant heroes of war that played triumphant roles in key conflicts that were written in stone eons after their time.
Overall, M.A.Haddad’s “The Shadow of the Staff: A Wizard’s Revenge” brings a wholesome and well-rounded fantasy story to the table, doing the genre justice in the formula it follows and in the style it’s written in. The pacing and chronological order in which the events unfold are true to their trope, and the details penned into each character and their individual roles in the final outcome weave seamlessly into the unraveling plot as the story progresses from their initial journey toward their descent into danger and war. Much development went into the conceptualization of the multitude of companions (and their individual personalities and significance to the plot) surrounding the main character, Burton Brew, whose distinct role in the book’s finale is revealed much later in the story. It becomes apparent, as the story begins to deviate away from the main character’s progression in battle prowess and into the supporting characters’ individual stories and interrelationships that coincide with the main plot, that the main character’s role is not that of valiant swordplay and battlefield confrontations; but one of leadership and commandership – a massive responsibility and great honor light-years beyond anything that Burton could’ve expected to witness in his lifetime.
What separates this particular book from your average fantasy novel is the emphasis on each individual character’s specific involvement in the carefully planned grand-finale, which draws away from centering solely around the main character being a valiant war hero and focuses more on the normalcy of your average everyman Myopian stumbling into this catastrophic series of events, who, out of necessity, embraces a potentially fate-of-the-realm-deciding responsibility through self-discovery, mustering up the courage to step up to the challenge as he and his comrades play their individual roles in a convolutedly grand scheme that culminates in the greatest battle the realm of Hatu has ever witnessed.
There’s no doubt that fans of the medieval-fantasy genre would appreciate this short read, as it’s everything that a Tolkien-inspired medieval-fantasy tale should be – highly detailed in folklore and immersively entertaining in the mystical realm that it takes place in. If you’re a fan of this genre, then you should definitely give this book a chance; you won’t regret checking this one out. At just 139 pages long, this short but sweet tale of swords and sorcery, all-out conflict, and masterful storytelling serves as the perfect treat for lovers of the fantasy genre, who’d definitely enjoy this highly satisfying read.
You can get a copy of M.A. Haddad’s “The Shadow of the Staff: A Wizard’s Revenge” soon! This book is in the process of Republication with Readersmagnet and will be available soon! This book review was made possible by www.readersmagnet.com.