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Embers of Illeniel #1

The Mountains Rise

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From the dark depths of the past, comes the tale of the first wizard of Illeniel. Daniel Tennick lived simply, a young shepherd with few troubles and little to occupy his mind, until the warden appeared. Daniel’s power awakens, and he finds himself hunted by the servants of the cruel and uncaring forest gods. Trapped by his gift, Daniel will uncover the secrets of the deep woods and those who live there, a civilization created from the grave of an older one. What he discovers will light a vengeful flame within him, consuming everything he touches.

530 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 20, 2014

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About the author

Michael G. Manning

25 books1,856 followers
Michael Manning was born in Cleveland, Texas and spent his formative years there, reading fantasy and science fiction, concocting home grown experiments in his backyard, and generally avoiding schoolwork.

Eventually he went to college, starting at Sam Houston State University, where his love of beer blossomed and his obsession with playing role-playing games led him to what he calls 'his best year ever' and what most of his family calls 'the lost year'.

Several years and a few crappy jobs later, he decided to pursue college again and was somehow accepted into the University of Houston Honors program (we won't get into the particulars of that miracle). This led to a degree in pharmacy and it followed from there that he wound up with a license to practice said profession.

Unfortunately, Michael was not a very good pharmacist. Being relatively lawless and free spirited were not particularly good traits to possess in a career focused on perfection, patient safety, and the letter-of-the-law. Nevertheless, he persisted and after a stint as a hospital pharmacy manager wound up as a pharmacist working in correctional managed care for the State of Texas.

He gave drugs to prisoners.

After a year or two at UTMB he became bored and taught himself entirely too much about networking, programming, and database design and administration. At first his supervisors warned him (repeatedly) to do his assigned tasks and stop designing programs to help his coworkers do theirs, but eventually they gave up and just let him do whatever he liked since it seemed to be generally working out well for them.

Ten or eleven years later and he got bored with that too. So he wrote a book. We won't talk about where he was when he wrote 'The Blacksmith's Son', but let's just assume he was probably supposed to be doing something else at the time.

Some people liked the book and told other people. Now they won't leave him alone.

After another year or two, he decided to just give up and stop pretending to be a pharmacist/programmer, much to the chagrin of his mother (who had only ever wanted him to grow up to be a doctor and had finally become content with the fact that he had settled on pharmacy instead).

Michael's wife supported his decision, even as she stubbornly refused to believe he would make any money at it. It turned out later that she was just telling him this because she knew that nothing made Michael more contrary than his never ending desire to prove her wrong. Once he was able to prove said fact she promptly admitted her tricky ruse and he has since given up on trying to win.

Today he lives at home with his stubborn wife, teenage twins, a giant moose-poodle, two yorkies, a green-cheeked conure, a massive prehistoric tortoise, and a head full of imaginary people. There are also some fish, but he refuses to talk about them.

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5 stars
1,950 (51%)
4 stars
1,260 (33%)
3 stars
418 (11%)
2 stars
94 (2%)
1 star
62 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews134 followers
July 19, 2017
After mulling this over I am going to have to drop my rating on Embers of Illeniel to 2 stars. There were a few good parts, but my overall feeling is it was just boring. I just about gave up after the first 25%, but pushed on and it did get a little better after this.

There was the mysterious gods who lived in the forbidden forest and an unexpected historical twist I didn't see coming that was interesting. Some of the magical fight scenes were good, but got a little repetitive after a while. I kept waiting on something to happen that would really get me pumped up for what comes next. It just never happened!

The story is being told in third person by a man telling the story to his children. This point of view doesn't bother me. I even like the feel of a story told this way. Especially, with the children gathered round with looks of expectation on their faces. I think it appeals to all of our childhoods and our parents reading to us. The amount of sexual content that was in the story was a little weird told from this point of view though.

My main problem with the story was the characters. The main character Daniel really got on my nerves. I should have been able to empathize for him after all he went through, but I just couldn't. The mysterious gods in the forest, or She'Har as they call themselves, were appealing at first. But after getting to know the characters they were not as interesting as I thought they would be.

I can see how this book would appeal to a lot of people. It has a really high star rating on GR, so obviously people have really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. The ending was kind of a cliffhanger, but it's not enough to keep me going. So, here is where I say goodbye to Embers of Illeniel and move on to my next adventure.
Profile Image for Ojo.
266 reviews109 followers
May 13, 2015
One of my best reads this year, I think. The story was refreshingly unique.
The story was quite different from what I expected from a book titled 'The Mountains Rise'. I expected some sort of heroic tale of epic proportions, involving plenty of magic, damsels in distress and a darkmage. I got something even better, but quite different.
The main character gradually develops with the progress of the plot. At the beginning of the book, we see a fifteen year old boy with serious psychological problems regarding the opposite sex. This was a teenager with serious hormonal problems, sticking his 'thing' into any 'soft hole' he could find. He also had the advantage of being able to magically coax any woman into being horny. To cap it off, he was in love with another girl. Serious psychological problems imo.
After his capture and enslavement, he actually begins to develop some sense and maturity....
The book, rather than being plot based, is character based. Its follows the development of a character from being a juvenile pscho to being mature. Its then mixes in a fine magical storyline featuring what makes us human.
Its a fine tale, well told. The writer is truly a fine storyteller. I eagerly await Book 2.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
134 reviews35 followers
June 30, 2014
Some books clearly indicate where they are going. After all, with so many fiction books being published these days, it is to be expected that similar storylines would run through most of them. Even Michael Manning's earlier books in the Mageborn series were fairly predictable, albeit with a slightly different (modern?) feel and an enjoyable focus on magical research.

But some books aren't like this. And this was one of the that kind.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this only because the story is about a "bad guy." Those books can be predictable too. But - there is just so much to this tale that I can't identify a "fiction mold" it came from. It is disturbing how real all the abuse surrounding Daniel, given and taken, felt - I honestly had to glance away from the book a few times from discomfort. Needless to say, those aspects never drove me away for long.

The worldbuilding here was also pretty exceptional, in my opinion. I enjoyed following along with Daniel as he explored different areas of magic, trying to copy from those around him and adapt enough to stay alive. Too many fantasy books leave the subject of magic awfully vague, and that made Daniel's struggle with copying spellweaving all the more distinct.

And don't get me started on the relationships...wow, let me just say that you will probably cycle through all your emotions during this book, and pity will likely be the last one. While the details on the magical system made me wish I too was a mage, the human interaction made me glad to be muggle.

I don't see how to continue without spoilers, so all I can do is recommend you read this book. It is about the best novel I've seen from a self-published author for a good long time now (and it doesn't cost that much too!). The writing was excellent - and if you read the early Mageborn books, you'll be glad to know that the editing is too.

Speaking of editing...one of my complaints in the Mageborn books was immersion-breaking modern English language. This novel partially invalidates those complaints rather cleverly. (For example, Daniel used the phrase "icebreaker at parties" once that made me pause - he never went to a single party in the book, and I really couldn't see a peasant throwing around the word "icebreaker" except in terms of physical labor. But those phrases were rare.)

Warning note: You might be confused by the occasional breaks in the narration of Daniel's story if you haven't read Manning's previous works. The narrator is the main character of the Mageborn series. I'd encourage you to read those novels as well, but this one shouldn't be too confusing if you haven't.
Profile Image for AndyS.
54 reviews
October 12, 2015

Very impressed with this book and will recommend to others.

Besides the magic and stuff a lot about love, feelings. reactions.

The writing is very good.

Reading level about high-school age not complex. Yet sophisticated phrasing.

Adult sexual situations very tastefully handled. Alluded to sexual activity but nothing explicit.

Subtle lessons can be learned in this book about morals.

411 reviews7 followers
July 28, 2017
This is the worst book I've read in awhile.
The characters are bad. The main character is a rape-y teenage boy who, very stereotypically, is very gifted with magic. He seduces older women with his abilities and feels bad about it, which is supposed to make him a sympathetic character (the narrator tells us this), but it just makes him seem like a manipulative, cruel person. He also manages to kill well-trained magic users even though he doesn't know anything about his abilities, which is one of my pet peeves in fantasy.
The story is interrupted by a future narrator throughout the book, who often destroys the tension that has been building and says obvious things. It adds nothing to the story. In fact, it essentially gives away the ending of the series/book.
Profile Image for Jay.
89 reviews26 followers
June 8, 2020
Someone mentioned to me that this was a good Fantasy Romance book. I'm going to have to have a talk with them now, because while there's plenty of Fantasy there is very little Romance. Certainly a bit of love, and a lot of lust, but romance? No. I feel like in that aspect this book falls into the trap many do of relying on some sort of childhood past between the main character and a childhood sweetheart and filling out very little of why they would ever stay. Making the best decisions you can in terrible situations, while seeming like an asshole is not romance...

This book follows a "good" person subjected to terrible things and follows their path through darkness. The protagonist frequently encounters terrible decisions, having to follow the lesser of two evils while perverting his soul in the process. You will see many flaws of humanity, both subjected to the "hero" as well as on others by him.

It was quite difficult to read about all the terrible things happening to this person, and honestly I can't say I really enjoyed it that much. The writer is quote evocative, though. I felt all the revulsion, self-pity, helplessness, self-loathing, etc. that the main character felt vividly and that in and of itself was a powerful journey. I'll likely read the next book to see what happens but I find myself not particularly looking forward to it.
Profile Image for Hashim.
28 reviews8 followers
February 24, 2016
For some reason I'm having a harder time than usual trying to put my thoughts into words for this review, but I'll just say this: This book is great, like 4.5* great! The story and the characters are really well thought out, and the actions scenes are nothing short of awesome. Take my word for it, read this book, because the second one only gets better.
Profile Image for William.
20 reviews2 followers
January 7, 2023
I went into this book with specific romantic expectations, and got something completely different. A complete subversion of my expectations, and a knife in the gut.

I came to this book, after reading the authors art of the adept series, which was fantastic. I LOVED the romance in that book. Featuring a disguised princess, and the last true wizard apprentice falling in love. So hot on the heels of that series, which i thought was excellent. I read the blurb for this book and thought it would be more of the same! count me in. Oh god, what the hell did i do to myself. I was looking for a lighthearted fun romance, with fantasy elements. Fucking hell. This is a godamn tragedy not a romance story! I want to point out that this book probbibly hit me so hard, because i went in blind, and assumeing it was going to be a feel good male power fantasy with romance elements. So when things started going bad for the main character, i kept expecting things to suddenly improve for him. But no, oh god no. I can say at one point reading this i got genuinly depressed, which is a testiment to how well it is written to be fair.

That being said there is romance in this book, but its tragic, sad and twisted. Things did start to go the main characters way towards the end of the book, but we have to be dragged through the mud for miles before we get there! I think things look to be more hopefull in the future installments too!

As for what you can expect from this book? A decent ammount of character growth, the main character goes from being a nieve immature and rather lothesome individual, to a broken husk of a man, and ultimately emerges on the other side. If this journey sounds appealing to you, you will enjoy this book. But if you want to put yourself in the place of the main character, and just feel good, to have good things happen. Run. Run far away.

I am struggling a little bit to write this review, because i am wondering if other people will have the strong negative emotional reaction i did too it. Maby going in with the knowledge of what the book is actually like, rather than expecting a sweet fantasy romance, will change the way it 'hits'. If you read this, and subsequently the book. I would apreciate you letting me know what you thought, maby its just me! Admittedly I am pretty sensitive to some of the stuff that happens to the main character in the book to be fair. I cant stand watching someone i love, be with someone else (shocker).

So why did i give it 4 stars? Well feeling good isnt everything. Lord knows we dont allways get what we want, and often the times we dont, are the times we learn the most about ourselves. This book is written pretty well to illicit the feelings i felt. Reguardless of if they were the feelings i initially sought, or if other readers will feel them too! I did enjoy it, and i probbibly will continue with the series at some point. I found it thought provokeing, suprising and ultimately bleak and distressing.

I listened to this book, on audible. I think the narration was pretty good. I can safely recommend audio as a good way to consume this book! There are a couple of spit out your drink moments humour wise, that the narrator really nails!

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Profile Image for Jazmin Quinci.
97 reviews
February 8, 2017
Raw, edgy & honest

I loved this book. Yes, it's bold but that's what makes it worthy of five stars. Manning took risks writing the series as he did to include sexual abuse. His approach is raw but much more responsibly done than some of the romantic fiction crap out there (can't recall the title but i'll come back to name it) that tells of young women who fall for abused men, later get tossed aside but are reunited after their love, persistence and patience finally breaks thru his barriers and the stone shield he surrounds himself with after years of abuse crumples and they live happily ever after.

No this is gritty and mature. There are all sorts of discussion topics contained herein that can make for a lively round table discussion. Manning did his homework about victims and associative behavior like how they often lash out victimizing others, their self-esteem, confusion, depression etc.

So we meet Daniel, a kid when his story begins. He's kind, loving and gentle but life events mold him into half man half beast. He evolves into a complex being literally and figuratively speaking. The inert and inherent animalistic nature believed to lay within each human is literally forced out of him. Daniel must survive in a world where cruelty and suffering go hand in hand.
20 reviews3 followers
July 18, 2014
An absolutely stunning read!

After reading Manning's Mageborn series I was able to understand a lot more of this book than if I picked this one up first. So first I recommend reading the five book Mageborn series beforehand. This book takes place around 200 years before that series takes place and it's a huge eye opener about the mysterious race of beings that ruled humans at that time (the truth of them is awesome and really makes everything to do with these beings make sense) and luckily it's narrated by the main character from Mageborn and his children so it's nice to have them pop up throughout the story. Manning is extremely talented and The Mountains Rise is a perfect example of his ability. His characters are fully formed entities with rich personalities that makes the reader want to see what happens next. I love that the main character in this book is flawed in his own eyes and doesn't make the right choices all the time but you want what's best for him anyway!! With beautiful and detailed settings, Manning's book comes alive in your hands and in your mind. Can't wait for more from him!!
1 review
March 10, 2017
After reading Mageborn and the first two Champions of the Dawning Dragons books, I thought I had a pretty good read on Michael G. Manning's stories.

From the Foreword of the book I already knew I was in for something different. Manning forewarns us, the reader, that this is a darker story than anything else he has written.

This story is not about a hero. And that makes me love it, because I don't know what he is going to do. Even though we know where things are ultimately going to lead from references in the other books... we have no idea what Tyrion is going to do from moment to moment. Makes him much more interesting than Mordecai ever was (to me).
Profile Image for Ali.
90 reviews3 followers
November 23, 2021

Re-Read in Nov 2021, just as good as the 1st time, a must-read for anyone interested in fantasy or a deep rich story, As you progress through the story you'll slowly understand the protagonist is neither hero nor villain... a great read, a great story, very well written.

Brilliant Brilliant book! hard to put down, very well written a little something for everyone. One of my fav books for sure, not your typical fantasy where the good guy wins or someone is trying to save the world or his people. It asks you to question what is "right" and "wrong" must read book!
Profile Image for Austin.
67 reviews
February 23, 2018
A fantastic dark fantasy with mature themes a great use of emotion and drama to keep readers enthralled in even the smallest interactions. Magic system is expansive but not overly simple or convoluted. Characters and relationships are dynamic. Great book.
Profile Image for Kat.
1,114 reviews3 followers
October 31, 2018
This book was pretty boring, generic fantasy, then it took a sharp left into statutory rape. I'm at 19% and now we've had numerous rapes caused by magical influence and now here's an actual, violent gang rape. I can not continue reading this garbage.
Profile Image for Bridget O'Keefe.
72 reviews
September 8, 2021
Not what I was expecting.

This isn’t the type of book I normally read but was pleasantly surprised by it all and the broad character development through the chapters (years). It was amazing to see a young boy grow and change into something magical and a little dark. It was hard not to fall in love with each character you were introduced to. I’m excited to read the next books!
5 reviews
October 27, 2018
I've always been a fan of the Dark Fantasy genre. Unlike traditional fantasy, the characters' worse enemies are themselves. Battles of morality are more relatable than quests to rescue a princess in an ivory tower. The reader feels more involved in the story, knowing that the happy ending isn't guaranteed.

I used to believe I knew this genre - that I've read books considered "dark", "realistic", "gritty". Books with anti-heroes such as Andy Peloquin's "The Last Bucelarii" series, Kel Kade's "King's Dark Tidings", Brent Week's "The Night Angel Trilogy" and "Lightbringer" series.

I know now that I've barely scratched the surface.

I haven't read the Mageborn series, but rather jumped straight in to Embers of Illeniel on the advice of a Reddit thread.

I write this as I finish up the 3rd book in the series. I binge read the series over the course of 3 days. I had to stop at least twice for a breather, to relax, and remind myself it's just a book. Just a story.

The moral obstacles Michael's characters face left me in tears - more than once. In the preamble, Michael mentions this series straddles the border between fantasy and horror. I disagree. Traditional horror makes the evil known. The suffering is predictable, and the "fear" is for the character's "survival", their "life".

This series, on the other hand, doesn't utilize the same "horror" resultant from "physical" pain, and fear for the safety of the characters. This series makes you feel the character's emotions, and then tears them apart.

If anything, this series is darker than traditional horror, it belongs to its own category.

Would I recommend this series? Only if you're not too easily distressed and if you have some light-hearted escape you can fall back to. If you satisfy those requirements though, then this is a must read.
2 reviews3 followers
August 21, 2018
Pretty dark story, this and the two others absolutely blew my mind away the more i read them, a very refreshing book series.

Sadly i didn't know there were books before this as these are a prequel to the mageborn series which i am now reading, interesting point of view knowing the history of the world so i'm not too disappointed however i highly recommend starting with mageborn.

I believe there is a read order from the author somewhere on here. enjoy x
Profile Image for Jonas Berg.
40 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2018
I loved this one! The author did not hold back anything when writing this one, it has violence, sex, language, everything really. But it's not only for adults, it's also a young adult fantasy.

You should read Mageborn #1-5 before you start this series of book, it's not totally necessary, but it helps.

Read it now! Can't recommend enough!
Profile Image for N Islam.
250 reviews7 followers
December 15, 2017
3 stars.

The mountain's rise is a fantasy coming of age story, but at times you might be tempted to call it sci-fi. Hell, you could make a good argument for it. The story reminded me of the good old coming of age novels like the sword of truth (the first bits, it gets crappy later on).

First off, there is a lot to like. I think the dialogue is good, and the characters are well fleshed out. There is a decent amount of development because its not a first person narrative, but rather a third person narrative focusing solely on the main character.

I think the world building, although not mind blowing, is decently done. I think there is a lot yet still to be done, since we only get a small glimpse into the world.

I've read the reviews for the next book, and the general consensus is that the quality goes out the window, and it does not remain as fresh and enjoyable as the first, so I will not likely be continuing onto the next one. I think the book leaves off at a good place.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who just wants a an adequate epic-fantasy novel. I think one thing that gets harder and harder to accept is the darkening tone of the whole series. I wish, there was a bit more humor to it. The quality does seem to lessen as the plot moves further, in the beginning, the dialogue is often quite funny, but later on it gets quite difficult to make it through.
Profile Image for Myth Oceanas.
73 reviews1 follower
October 9, 2019
It was alright, better than some of the authors other books but still a lot of the same problems. I will recommend this book to friends but overall there just seems to be a few issues that I can't get past.

Writing Style: The biggest issue is that this is told in a mixed 3rd and 1st person point of view. Someone is telling a story but your constantly getting Daniels pointless internal dialogue mixed in. Everything thing Daniel thinks is just an explanation of what was inferred from the previous set of sentences. Again, like with other books, the Arthur doesn't trust the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Story: Another issue with this book is there is no suspense or mystery to drive the story along. The only driving force I had the whole book was to see if maybe Daniel came back around and found Kate again. The big evil is just really Daniel himself, and listening to him complain about how bad he screwed his life up a majority of the book just doesn't do it for me. He is self destructive then gets mad about it at every turn.

Characters: Finally, like with the Mageborn MC Daniel is a little to smart to be a common Shepard's son. He can read, write, and has a very analytical way of thinking. I don't know if some of this comes from his power or whatever but it just seems strange.
Profile Image for Tomas Grizzly.
Author 2 books26 followers
June 19, 2021
50% VERY mixed feelings. DNF candidate.
One of my main issues comes with the narrative style. I've probably mentioned it in past but I hate the "future narrator" style with a passion. High spoiler risk (well, pretty much guaranteed), disruptive experience, and forcing opinions on the reader. Worse, the narrator is first-person and the story is one-character third-person. My opinion is that, if the story included more than one PoV and more internal thoughts from the MC (as well as more characters), the future narrator wouldn't be missed. And the internal thoughts would work better than "he knew/didn't know X" from hindsight.
From this comes my second issue: at many points, I struggled to understand the MC's motivation. The low amount of internal thoughts is probably the main factor which the future narrator only increased. Especially when it comes to the questionable actions in the early story. Then, a good part of the middle story just went on, without any idea where it may lead or why it's even going on. At that point, I couldn't really see the direction the story was taking.
Another issue is that I couldn't really see what's the big thing and where the story is to go from the story itself. Maybe if I read it as a prequel while knowing what's to come, that may be alleviated, but reading it as a fresh start... it was really unclear.
156 reviews
September 26, 2022
Illenial's Embers #1 - Mageborn #6

This is the beginning of a prequel trilogy orated by Mort to his children* via a fireplace storytelling. The subject matter being the origin story of the Illenial dynasty and the genocide of the She'Har.

This is an interesting history of some of the characters we met in the Mageborn series. Plus we get an extended look at the She'Har, who we never learned much about but were referenced often. One tidbit I found to be a nice twist is that these events take place in our distant future. That's right, this is actually a sci-fi alien invasion story...who knew!
Profile Image for Annika.
86 reviews
December 15, 2022
I liked this enough to go ahead and purchase the next two on Kindle. The worldbuilding seems unique, and despite heavy flaws, I was still able to relate to and even like the main character (which is an accomplishment on the part of the author).
I'm not a huge fan of the writing itself. I don't feel the depth of emotion that is described as being present at all. Perhaps I'm cold-hearted, but I feel like the author spent too much time telling readers what the character was feeling rather than showing. This was what kept me from marking the book as four stars (good), and kept it at an average rating of three stars for me.
Profile Image for Nancy.
66 reviews5 followers
May 17, 2017
This was just not really to my taste. Too much murder and mayhem, not enough kindness and good things. I usually love all things magic, but I have to say, he almost lost me when the forest people walked up the side of the trees - just at right angles - it would look so ridiculous! Why couldn't they levitate or teleport? At one point I thought I would read the next book, but after reading some reviews I won't bother
Profile Image for Leigh.
127 reviews
September 8, 2017
Listened to the audiobook of this in the car with my boyfriend on the way back from a trip. Not the kind of book I would have reached for on my own, but kept us both entertained for the entire trip! The author depicts and interesting world and has nice character development! I liked it much more than I thought I would, and may end up reading the second book of the series. The narrator was excellent.
7 reviews
March 29, 2021
Never have I felt more connected mind body and soul to a character before (except for maybe Jorg). I’m perhaps 1/5 of the journey into this book and I am already mourning the loss I I know I will feel at the end of the trilogy. 5/5 doesn’t describe the love I feel for this book, the first I have read from this author. If the rest of his work’s are written with such beauty and darkness, it could be quite some time before I resurface for our writers.
Profile Image for Victoria.
155 reviews2 followers
June 20, 2021
I would say 3.5 stars. I did enjoyed this book, the writing was very good, I was impressed with it but I didn't love it. Within the book there were many sexual situations that in many other books could've been overly done but in this book it was tasteful and well written without it being smutty and overly sexual. My favourite part of the book was the magic system set in place and how well thought out it is but it wasn't my favourite. It was for me a quick and easy read.
Profile Image for Jacob Lane.
136 reviews3 followers
October 4, 2017
It's a good book, I will say however that the beginning is very irritating. Daniel is ... very immature, childish, and cowardly in the beginning. And considering the frontier style life they live it's incredibly unlikely for a person to grow that way. Which was very immersion breaking. Otherwise its a good book.
Profile Image for Ralph Trickey.
432 reviews5 followers
January 16, 2018
Not my cup of tea
I got a quarter of the way through and started skipping, then gave up.
Any story that starts with pedophilia which proceeds into rape and forced fighting and torture needs to have something more going for it than this one did. The hero was just too clueless and the 'story' didn't grab me. There was some promise there, but I just didn't find the situation that interesting.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews

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