The Adventures of Wrathgar,
A Heroic Fantasy Book Series for Archery Enthusiasts
By SM and VVD.
Are you looking for a fantasy book series that has a lot of archery in it? Perhaps you're unhappy with the unrealistic portrayals of archery in other books? Well, today we're going to introduce you to the book series by Charles Moffat: "The Adventures of Wrathgar" and it is the answer to your problems.
Charles Moffat (amazon.com/author/moffat) is an archery instructor/coach, and you can read his nonfiction work in "Archery Focus Magazine", but when he isn't teaching archery or writing magazine articles about archery, he is writing fantasy books... about archery!
Now right away you're going to realize that this author really loves archery, and his knowledge of the sport, of bow making, of flintknapping, of the physics of the sport, well, it all comes out in his Wrathgar series of books. They are essentially "archery fantasy books" written for archers by an archer, and you're not really going to find any other authors who give archery the level of realism that he does in his books.
So if you want a book series that has lots of archery, and you want it to be realistically portrayed, then this is the book series for you.
The Assassin's Trail
$9.99 for the trade paperback, $5.99 for the ebook
145 pages for the paperback
The first book in the series is basically a cross between an anthology and a pulp fiction novel*. The stories within can be read on their own, or they can be read as a whole, as the first book is essentially an origin story for the main character Wrathgar and introduces characters like Soljargon (who reappears in the short story "The Sunken Castle" and the novel "The Demon's Sacrifice") and other characters whom I suspect we shall see again in later adventures.
* For those that don't know pulp fiction novels are shorter, typically in the 40,000 to 60,000 range. They still count as novels, but they are certainly shorter. For example "A Wizard of Earthsea" is similar in length, 56,533 words, and also falls into the unusual category of being sort of an anthology and sort of a novel. Or another comparison is "The Last Wish", which is the first book in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, which is also a mix between anthology and novel.
The first book follows Wrathgar during his teenage years, beginning with his Test of Manhood, and culminating with him being tasked to track down a murderer and return with his head. Right away in the first part you see the level of detail and world building you expect to see from a mature author who knows what they're doing. This is followed by various events and foreshadowing, and eventually the return of the main villain who proves to be Wrathgar's diabolical opposite. A true good vs evil story.
Now if you love archery you will not be disappointed by this book. It has a lot of archery in it, written by an author who is an archery instructor, and consequently the level of detail and realism in the book with respect to archery, but also with respect swordplay and axes, is demonstrated beautifully. However even if you're not an archer the author has made it easy to understand what is happening because the descriptions of archery equipment and shooting are done in a manner that is easy for archers and non-archers alike.
The writing is excellent, there is some great use of foreshadowing, the main villain is truly despicable, and the hero is naive but learning. Weren't we all naive at some point? The book also leaves you wanting MORE, but without the use of a cliffhanger that some books rely upon in order to get more sales. The author is basically giving you straight goods, and then letting you decide purely on the merits of the book whether to buy the next book in the series.
The Blizzard's Daughter
$9.99 for the trade paperback, $5.99 for the ebook
164 pages for the paperback
Unlike the first book in the series this one is wholly a pulp fiction novel and not an anthology. It is also slightly longer than the first book, but the same price. What you get however is the first fully fledged novel in the series with realistically portrayed villains, a new friend and ally in the form of Wren (aka, the Blizzard's Daughter), and an interesting glimpse into the world and the magic of Korovia. The first book only briefed touched on topics of magic with various characters Soljargon and others, but it didn't go into a lot of detail that wasn't relevant to the plot. This book takes it further, giving you the Point of View of Wren who is undergoing a series of rituals in order to become a "Blizzard", which is a type of cryomancer / ice wizard. If you love it when writers go into detail about how magic works in their world then you're going to enjoy this portrayal of ice magic.
The plot of the book itself may remind you of several things: "The Fugitive" film with Harrison Ford for example. The book is essentially a tale of survival while the main characters Wren and Wrathgar are on the run from a group of Xarsians who want to kill Wren, and Wrathgar has been tasked with protecting the young woman by her father who is also a Blizzard. Hence the title of the book.
Again the archery in this book is fantastic, and there is a lot of it. Wrathgar is still swinging his sword and axe too, but there is a significant amount of archery. So despite the lack of archery on the book cover there is certainly lots of archery in the book.
The book also introduces a swordsmith / bounty hunter character named Vela. Vela could end up being your favourite character in the book because she has a very butch personality that feels like a cross between Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones, and Jango Fett (the bounty hunter from Star Wars). Seriously. You're going to love this character, and you're going to love seeing her in combat.
Again, the writing is excellent. Moffat only seems to improve with each new novel he releases.
The Coven's Wolves
$15.99 for the trade paperback, $9.99 for the ebook
Unknown pages for the paperback
We cannot really comment on the third book of the Wrathgar series because it doesn't come out until March 1st 2021. The following is the book description from Amazon, where it is currently available for preorder:
Wrathgar has decided to wait out the harsh Korovian winter in an inn south of Oraknev, home to legendary hot springs said to have healing properties. But not everything at the hot springs are as they seem. First one of the guests is mysteriously murdered, and then others turn up mauled by some kind of large wolf - possibly a werewolf. Dark forces are at work at the hot springs and the other people staying at the inn to wait out the winter are in for more danger than they bargained for at a place that is supposed to increase your longevity.
With bow and arrow, Wrathgar and others set out to kill the mysterious wolves that are killing the inn's patrons, but when they realize these wolves are possessed by some kind of magic - they begin to fear they are but lambs to the slaughter.
We also know this: Unlike the first two books the third book is supposed to be a full length novel, comparable in size to Book IV of the series. This means it is at least double the length of "The Assassin's Trail" or possibly even twice the length of "The Blizzard's Daughter". What should we expect to be in the book? More archery, more magic, and apparently lots of wolves. The plot is described as also being a murder mystery, so expect that as well.
We're going to update this listing later after the book is released, but for now let's just say that we are looking forward to reading it.
You may also notice that Moffat didn't write or release these books in chronological order. The release order for the books are "The Assassin's Trail", then "The Demon's Sacrifice", then "The Blizzard's Daughter", and finally "The Coven's Wolves". However the proper reading order is supposed to be ABCD. Apparently the whole series is meant to be read in alphabetical order, with the exception of any short stories like "The Sunken Castle" which is independent of the novel series.
The Demon's Sacrifice
$15.99 for the trade paperback, $9.99 for the ebook
296 pages for the paperback
So immediately we should mention the page count. Over double that of the first book in the series. This may remind you of the first Harry Potter book which was 77,000 words long, and the books that followed got longer and longer. The final book in the Harry Potter series was 190,000 words long, roughly double the length of a normal novel. When authors are writing a book series apparently the standard seems to be writing the first book to be shorter and easier to read and then make the books longer and longer. You see it in the Game of Thrones series and other book series too.
The fourth novel in the series is an ensemble adventure story. One elf, one half-elf, one halfling (Habbel or "Hab"), one human necromancer (Soljargon returning for more adventures), and Wrathgar. There are some racial tensions as the elf and halfling don't get along, and Wrathgar finds himself in a leadership role for the first time. Usually Wrathgar's team ups with Soljargon and Wren have been more of partnerships, and the group certainly starts off that way, but Wrathgar has been growing as a character and changing. He isn't as naive as he used to be, and the team ultimately needs leadership and being the only tracker and woodsman in the group he is kind of forced into the role of leader. This isn't without its bumps however, as the group isn't really prone to getting along.
This is also the first book with a truly massive battle scene. The previous books had fights and combats, but this one has a battle which feels more like it is part of a war. (Don't read the timeline on the author's website unless you want to see spoilers!)
For the archery enthusiasts this book also has a lot of archery. Due to being double the length it basically has double the archery scenes in it, but it also has the elf character Gyburn who is also an archer. Gyburn brings a whole new level of realism to the depiction of elven archery. If you love the Lord of the Rings films, but always hated the unrealistic depiction of archery with Legolas then you're going to really love Gyburn as a character, partially because he is depicted as being flawed whereas Legolas is depicted as basically the perfect example of elfhood.
The writing in "The Demon's Sacrifice" is epic. It is well crafted, has a great natural flow with respect to the plot, and you get to see POVs of the different characters in the ensemble of adventurers. This particular book feels very much like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure wherein the adventurers meet in a tavern and then go off on adventures together. This D&D-esque feeling isn't a bad thing, but it certainly contains recognizable plot elements that D&D players will either enjoy or hate. Or possibly love to hate. And even if you're not a D&D player then it doesn't matter. It is still a great plot.
The Sunken Castle
$3.99 for the trade paperback, $2.99 for the ebook
45 pages for the paperback
"The Sunken Castle" is a story/novelette which takes place between books I and II of the series. You could read them in order, with "The Sunken Castle" being the second book you read, you could skip over this story and consider it to be optional, or you could read it out of order. Also as short stories go this one is particularly long. It is actually a novelette, because it is too long to be considered a short story, but too short to be a novella or a novel. Novelettes are any books that are in the 7,500 words to 17,499 words range.
Within this novelette you see another team up with Wrathgar and Soljargon (who also appears in books I and IV), as well as a group of gnomes from the town of Deepstone. The story feels a bit more like a Sword and Sorcery novelette than a Heroic Fantasy, partially due to the giant snakes on the cover, and consequently may remind you of the Conan novelettes by Robert E. Howard. This short story is certainly the most S&S of all the Wrathgar books, so if you enjoy Conan stories then perhaps you should snag this one up to complete your collection.
This particular story has the least amount of archery out of all the Wrathgar books, partially because it is only 45 pages long, but also because his arrows (spoiler alert!) turn out to be somewhat useless against certain monsters. So if you're buying the novelette expecting lots of archery this particular story may disappoint you, but you will still get to enjoy the combat regardless.
It should also be noted that Charles Moffat also writes a separate series of books called "Wulfric the Wanderer", which has a very similar feel to "Conan the Barbarian". Unfortunately Robert E. Howard only completed 17 of his original Conan stories before he died, and many of the Conan stories that were added later were the result of other writers finishing his unfinished stories, adding their own stories, etc. However while there are certainly similarities between Conan and Wulfric, there are also huge differences:
#1. Wulfric the Wanderer is a time traveler. He doesn't just stick to one point in the timeline. He travels between places and time periods within Korovia and to other kingdoms outside of Korovia, but still within the world of Aoerth.
#2. Wulfric the Wanderer also regularly uses archery, but not as much as his son Wrathgar does.
#3. Wait, Wrathgar is Wulfric's son? Yep. Throughout the Wrathgar book series he is referred to as "Wrathgar, Son of Wulfric", although it is noted at various points that Wrathgar thinks his father was named after the legendary "Wulfric the Wanderer", and he has no clue that his father is actually a time traveler and really is the legendary hero. It makes you wonder if father and son will ever be reunited and how those stories might play out. Maybe this is a long term goal of the author to reunite the two?
So yes, hopefully we haven't spoiled anything. We really tried to avoid ruining any of the plots in the descriptions of the above books. What we hope you take away is that this is a really good book series, and if you're into archery then it is doubly so. It is well written, well crafted, and the level of detail and world building will make you fall in love with the characters and the world.
We also have to assume that Moffat is planning a very long series of novels, judging by the alphabetical nature of his titles. If he writes one novel for every letter in the alphabet we're looking at a series of 26 novels, and the character of Wrathgar will get older and change over time.
Please enjoy! Happy Reading!