Book Review: The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

Title: The Ranger of Marzanna

Author:  Jon Skovron

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Female-fronted

With complex characters, a unique setting, an intriguing mythology, and an even more complex morality, The Ranger of Marzanna is one of those books that managed to exceed even my high expectations.

This is the story of two siblings, two families, two empires, and two armies - a gripping tale of conflicting loyalties told in chilling shades of grey. Sonya and Sebastian are Portinaris, children of an Aureumian father and an Izmorozian father, caught between the conquering Empire and the country it occupies. When the murder of their father forces a decision, Sonya chooses to embrace her role as a forbidden Ranger of Marzanna while Sebastian reluctantly agrees to put his elemental sorcery to work for the Aureumian army.

It's those conflicting loyalties that make this such a fascinating read. Both siblings believe they're doing the right thing, but for very different reasons. Compounding that moral grey area is a mother who is playing the games of Izmorozian nobility within the Aureumian Empire, and a fiancee who is juggling love for a man with love for a culture. I loved Sonya's passion, her dedication, and the sacrifices she makes for her cause, but she is almost as naive as she is wild. As for Sebastian, I was prepared not to like him, but the moral quandaries he's faces, the battle he wages between a man's sorrow and a soldier's duty, made him surprisingly sympathetic. His betrothal to Galina is the emotional heart of the novel, and the raw pain he lays bare before her is almost as captivating as the struggle she faces to save a man while fighting to preserve a culture.

The Ranger of Marzanna is a book heavy with magic, falling into three categories. The first is the mythology of Izmoroz, particularly the magic of Lady Marzanna, a simple sort of folklore with an animalistic nature that becomes more significant as the story builds. The second is the elemental magic of Sebastian, which is full of potential and terrifying in the way he applies it to the war. The last is the magic of the Uaine necromancers, a surprisingly mythic kind of power that is terrifying to witness and yet almost sacred to understand.

If I were to have one minor complaint, it would be that certain aspects of the story are a little too easy, a little too simple, making me wonder as to whether the narrative is thinner than it appears or whether it's all a set-up, a deliberate bit of subterfuge before revealing something bigger and more significant in the next volume. That simplicity lends itself to an odd bit of pacing as well, with some things happening surprisingly quickly, separated by longer periods of pondering and debate.

It remains to be seen whether The Goddess War will prove to be as memorable as Empire of Storms, but with The Ranger of Marzanna it's off to a promising start.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Glad to see your four star rating. I've read some mixed reviews so I'm a little nervous to start this😁

  2. I saw the same but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. Glad to see a positive review, it seems like opinions for this book are all over the place. I'm still on the fence about reading it.


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