The Ranger of Marzanna (The Goddess War, #1)
When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths—one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it—in this thrilling new Russian inspired epic fantasy from Jon Skovron.Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he's fighting for the empire.

The Ranger of Marzanna (The Goddess War, #1) Details

TitleThe Ranger of Marzanna (The Goddess War, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 21st, 2020
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780316454629
Rating
GenreFantasy, Adult

The Ranger of Marzanna (The Goddess War, #1) Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisherOrbitin exchange for an honest review.2.5/5 starsAtmospheric, slow-paced, and well-written, but I have mixed feelings.I havent read the series, but Ive heard many great things about Jon Skovrons Empire of Storms trilogy. When I saw that Skovrons newest book, The Ranger of Marzanna, is a Russian inspired fantasy that has Magali Villleneuve as the cover artistlook at that cover art, its stunningI immediately put this book on my radar. The result of the content, ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.2.5/5 starsAtmospheric, slow-paced, and well-written, but I have mixed feelings.I haven’t read the series, but I’ve heard many great things about Jon Skovron’s Empire of Storms trilogy. When I saw that Skovron’s newest book, The Ranger of Marzanna, is a Russian inspired fantasy that has Magali Villleneuve as the cover artist—look at that cover art, it’s stunning—I immediately put this book on my radar. The result of the content, however, isn’t as likable as I hoped. I’ll keep this review briefer than usual; there were several factors that I enjoyed reading and parts that didn’t work for me in almost equal measure.The Ranger of Marzanna follows the tale of two siblings that finds themselves fighting for a different side. Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, and she’s fighting for Marzanna—her goddess of winter and death. Her brother Sebastian, on the other hand, is a powerful sorcerer fighting for the invading empire that Sonya hates. These two characters are probably the biggest reason why this book didn’t work for me. Not only they’re not likable, but I also found their motivations for their actions throughout the book aren’t too well fleshed out. Sonya—as someone who’s training to be a Ranger of Marzanna—tends to constantly switch between happy-go-lucky to an instant killing mode done based on being very emotional and ridiculously rash. The goddess she’s fighting for doesn’t seem to bring any joy but suffering for her devotee. Also, at the beginning of the book, Sonya and Sebastian had their father killed, Sebastian ends up joining the killer side. Why? Because the killer appreciates his talent for magic, and Sebastian was never close with his father anyway. This is such a stupid reason, even for a kid. These two main characters needed more exposition and characterizations for their actions to make sense. Plus, except Jorge and Galina, almost all of the characters were utterly difficult to care for. “Every father longs to save their child from the suffering they themselves endured. And I won’t lie and tell you there won’t be suffering somewhere along this path. But there is always suffering. On any path. That is an unavoidable part of life, regardless of what you choose to do with it. Suffering is what makes us who we are.” Admittedly, although the characters failed to compel me, they do have a distinctive voice from each other. This is a well-written book, and the contrast between each character’s POV—especially between Sonja and Sebastian—was well done. Skovron’s world-building felt atmospheric; The Ranger of Marzanna is a Russian-inspired fantasy, and the environmental description implement made me feel cold. It was as if I was there experiencing the whiteness of the scenery and the coldness of the weather. Also, check out this—probably—nod to Assassin’s Creed: “Apparently one could survive a jump from sixty feet into a wagon filled with straw, but not without great cost.” The Ranger of Marzanna is a good start to a trilogy, but I seriously have no idea how the content of this book will be able to stand out among countless amazing books in the genre right now. I truly believe that we’re living in the golden age of fantasy at the moment, and it will be challenging for The Ranger of Marzanna to earn its spot inside it; it’s a good read to pass the time, but in my opinion, there aren’t enough noteworthy features in this novel. Overall, I'm a bit disappointed with this one.Official release date: 23rd April 2020 (UK) and 21st April 2020 (US)You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel NotionsSpecial thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
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  • Ari
    January 1, 1970
    Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon | WaterstonesThank you NetGalley and Orbit for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. "...there is always suffering.On any path.That is an unavoidable part of life,regardless of what you choose to do with it.Suffering is what makes us who we are." At the center of The Ranger of Marzanna we have the siblings Sonya and Sebastian, two very different people, tugged in very different directions amid the upcoming war in their land. Sebastian wants to be a Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon | WaterstonesThank you NetGalley and Orbit for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. "...there is always suffering.On any path.That is an unavoidable part of life,regardless of what you choose to do with it.Suffering is what makes us who we are." At the center of The Ranger of Marzanna we have the siblings Sonya and Sebastian, two very different people, tugged in very different directions amid the upcoming war in their land. Sebastian wants to be a soldier for the Aureum Imperial Army that has overtaken their land of Gogoleth in Izmoroz. Sonya wants to take down said army and free the Izmoroz people, eventually lifting them to the status that they once possessed. Despite the fact that Sonya and Sebastian are the central figures in this story, they were the two characters that I had the most difficulty associating with. I could never quite put my finger on who Sonya was, between her bursts of eager friendliness and her mindless animalistic tendencies—which, did make sense, considering how the gifts of the Lady of Marzanna are granted. I think that we just did not mesh as reader/character. And Sebastian was unlikable; rather than raise above circumstances, he would behave like the child others thought him to be, and break into murderous tantrums whenever he would become upset. Whenever the two of them would come together in a scene, any maturity they might have retained would collapse into a mess of terrible comebacks and immature behavior.Just because they're fighting for different causes, and are, in essence, enemies, does not mean that they need to act like ten-year-olds battling over a toy.Among the rest of the cast, Jorge, Blaine and Galina were some of the most entertaining to read. Jorge was a great source of balance for Sonya's impetuousness, he's bright, sweet, loyal. Blaine is full to bursting of a strong warrior spirit, he's funny, and a lot more intelligent than he appears to be. And Galina is incredibly smart, a great tactician, and wonderfully manipulative. It doesn't sound like that last one is a good quality to have, but it fits her personality beautifully, and therefore complements her quite well. For me, those three drove the story.The story itself was easy to get through despite its length, and I did want to know how it would wrap up, but it was dry for the most part. It's slow-going, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but there's a lot of nothing happening throughout. I really enjoyed the inclusion of the Lady of Marzanna/Morena/Mara/Morana in the plot, and her scenes were some of the best. She gives us enough of the disturbing darkness that portrays her role as goddess of winter and death in-story very nicely. But these scenes were far too few and far in between. Her appearance at the very end—alongside whom I assume to be the Uaine's god of death, Bás—was enough to make me want to read the second book, but this first one did not meet enough of my expectations.All in all, it's a fair novel, I'm a huge fan of the Russian influence stroked into it, and I do want to see how things develop in the next installment. I just hope for growth in the future.
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  • Athena (OneReadingNurse)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you so much to Orbit Books via NetGalley for the e-ARC of The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron. The book was provided in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.I was looking for some awesome new fantasy books to review this spring and summer and couldn't resist this title based off of my favorite thing ever...horses on the cover. An other-worldly looking woman on a gorgeous horse, plus a description based off Russian and Polish legends did it for me. I also love sibling Thank you so much to Orbit Books via NetGalley for the e-ARC of The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron. The book was provided in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.I was looking for some awesome new fantasy books to review this spring and summer and couldn't resist this title based off of my favorite thing ever...horses on the cover. An other-worldly looking woman on a gorgeous horse, plus a description based off Russian and Polish legends did it for me. I also love sibling rivalries and was not disappointed.The plot is interesting and the story is well paced. It may be 528 pages but did not feel that long and at times it was hard to put down. The chapters mostly alternated between Sonya and Sebastian, the siblings on either side of this war, and the chapters from other characters advanced things as well. I like books that don't repeat themselves.The world building was fantastic with architecture, climate, food, morale, and religion of both the conquerors and the conquered described in fine detail. The nobility and the peasants both had their turn and I understood the larger motivations of the citizenry. I also loved the Uaine as a bunch of partying war bands - fucking and alcohol and necromancers, Oh my!!! The army of the dead was so cool, well done concept.The entire plot seemed.........too easy though. Like an obvious set up. All of it.I liked the family relationships described throughout the book. Each main character gets to examine their relationship with their parents while finding their own footing. Yes parents have lives, yes they have sex lives and friends and personalities and I think it was great that this theme kept coming out. Above all else the young characters may have made some bad decisions but they were always encouraged to do what THEY thought was right.I also liked the characters well enough, Sonya is funny and awkward but also a Ranger, ready to whip around and murder a crew of soldiers. Jorge is funny too and I liked that while the other characters picked at his religion, he stood strong on his morals. Sebastian is just a little duped twit. See next paragraph for my discourse on motives. Elgin Mordha and Blaine might have been my favorite side characters. Galina and Sebastien's mom seemed like hollow shells... I just didn't understand their motives.Most of my issues with this book were that I didn't think the character's motivations made sense. Things were too easy. Why would Jorge just drop his life's work? Why would Sebastian just run off and turn into a murderous twit under the tutelage of the man who killed his father? Even Sonja seemed misguided at times, like trusting Elgin Mordha seemed like a questionable choice without really knowing anything about his tribes. I think a lot of the young naivete here is setting the stage for a ton of intrigue and betrayal in book 2, which I am ready for. The end of the book pointed to a lot of tables turning and I think these characters are going to have a lot of hard lessons to learn.I did enjoy the book and would recommend to fantasy fans. It's not an amazing stand out novel, but I'm calling it a solid one. I am on board for the second book due to the massive amount of set up that came at the end of this novel, I just see a lot of room for plot improvement and am basing this review on my level of entertainment, which was high.Thank you again to Orbit Books for the review copy, all opinions are my own.The book releases 4/21 so check it out if it sounds up your alley!
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  • Narilka
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 3.5 starsThe Ranger of Marzanna is the first in The Goddess War series by Jon Skovron. This is a character driven epic fantasy with heavy Slavic influences. The story focuses on a pair of siblings that end up on separate paths after their father is murdered by Imperial soldiers.The nation of Izmoroz has been conquered by the Aureumian Empire for many years. Sonya Turgenev Portinari - a Ranger and devotee of Marazanna, the goddess of winter and death - has vowed to remove the Empire's Rating: 3.5 starsThe Ranger of Marzanna is the first in The Goddess War series by Jon Skovron. This is a character driven epic fantasy with heavy Slavic influences. The story focuses on a pair of siblings that end up on separate paths after their father is murdered by Imperial soldiers.The nation of Izmoroz has been conquered by the Aureumian Empire for many years. Sonya Turgenev Portinari - a Ranger and devotee of Marazanna, the goddess of winter and death - has vowed to remove the Empire's influence from Izmoroz and free her country. Coming home after a one of her trips into the wilderness she finds her father has been murdered and her mother and brother abducted. Following their trail to a nearby city Sony is shocked to find her mother, Irina Turgenev Portinari, has returned to her old life as an Izmorozan noble while her brother, Sebastian, has joined the imperial army as a powerful elemental mage. With her family torn apart by the Empire Sonya sets out to find allies in her quest to free her country.There are a lot of things to like about The Ranger of Marzanna. The worldbuilding is solid. The elemental magic system will be fairly familiar to fantasy fans with just enough changes so it doesn't feel completely stale. More interesting is Marzanna's influence on her followers. A Ranger that receives her blessing is "marked" and begins to change, gaining beastly characteristics of an animal assigned to them by the goddess. I found this aspect fascinating and definitely want to see more of this as the series progresses. There is just enough action mixed in so that the pace remains steady though not breathless like more action oriented books can be. Sonya is brash and wild, having fully embraced her life as a Ranger. She is determined to protect the land and her countrymen, going to any length necessary to acheive her goal. This takes a surprising turn, bordering on horror elements a times, giving her character a surprising depth. Sebastian is almost her exact opposite. He is a gentle soul, confused by his father's death yet joining the Imperial Army anyway after having been convinced it's the best way to protect his country. He is gradually lead down a path of brutality, not even realizing how badly he's being manipulated by his commanding officer, and continues to deny the atrocities he's committed against the populace. It's an interesting contrast between the two. The supporting cast is great, with the standout being Galina, Sebastian's betrothed. She understands exactly what is happening to Sebastian and tries her best to counteract it, knowing in her heart it's a losing battle. In many ways this makes Galina the most interesting and sympathetic character in the book. I hope she has a larger role in the story to come.The Ranger of Marzanna is a solid start of a series. I look forward to continuing Sonya and Sebastian's story.I won a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway.
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  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    "As their carriage rattled down the road, the snowfields slipped past the barred windows, gleaming luminous in the moonlight. Mounted imperial soldiers surrounded the carriage, riding in perfect formation. Again Sebastian could not help feeling awe at their precision. His father had often spoken of the ruthless efficiency of imperial soldiers, but had neglected to mention their almost serene discipline. Every one of them seemed to know exactly what to do at all times. Sebastian envied them that "As their carriage rattled down the road, the snowfields slipped past the barred windows, gleaming luminous in the moonlight. Mounted imperial soldiers surrounded the carriage, riding in perfect formation. Again Sebastian could not help feeling awe at their precision. His father had often spoken of the ruthless efficiency of imperial soldiers, but had neglected to mention their almost serene discipline. Every one of them seemed to know exactly what to do at all times. Sebastian envied them that surety."Let's start with some high praise, shall we?THAT GLORIOUS COVER! Isn't it beautiful? Magali Villeneuve is a wicked talented artist and if you don't know her fantasy work, you haven't been paying enough attention! Her illustrations have been used in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, among many other areas, including Magic: The Gathering.To say the cover designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio immediately grabbed me would be an understatement! It would make for a rad tattoo, no?That's where my gushing must end, regrettably. The Ranger of Marzanna was my first DNF of the year, which isn't exactly a distinction I want to boast about.The Ranger of Marzanna has many things that intrigue me, at least on the surface. A fantasy setting in winter, sibling rivalry, sorcery, ANIMAL COMPANIONS! As much as the concept captured me, as much as the cover excited me.. the unfortunate thing is that ultimately I didn't give a shit about the characters. I found it difficult to connect with them, they felt one-dimensional and hollow. Stilted pacing, unemotional attachments to the characters, dry writing, simplistic storytelling. The juxtaposition of the juvenile style and bloody scenes felt.. odd. The violence was exaggerated, but not in a entertaining/logical/authentic way. It just didn't fully vibe with me, although there is no doubt some YA crossover appeal here. Similar with the KID WHO IS A GENIUS AND SPEAKS LIKE A MINI ADULT trope, I'm just not into the younger dialogue paired with the super violence aspect. There's an unbelievable quality to that type of storytelling that is extremely difficult to pull off. Unfortunately, this felt like a rough draft of the story. There is no real sense of urgency or emotion. Initially I thought the chaos of the outside world was to blame, so I forged on.I made it to page 242 and it just didn't improve any for me. It's hard enough for me to focus right now as it is during these trying times, I'm certainly not going to force something that just isn't working.I have had the first two books in Skovron's Empire of Storms trilogy for many years and even with this DNF, I do plan on still giving it a go! It seems like it will be fun, which is one thing that was sorely missing here in The Ranger of Marzanna. I haven't completely ruled out his writing just yet.I'm sure this book will find its audience, but I'm not it. (Thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!)**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**
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  • Traveling Cloak
    January 1, 1970
    SynopsisSonya is a free-spirit Ranger of Marzanna; sworn to the Goddess of Winter and death, she lives off the land and protects the people of the Empire from evil. It comes at a cost, though, one that Sonya is willing to pay.Sebastian is a powerful magician who believes in order and wishes to join the Empirical Army, something his father would never allow. When soldiers murder his father for crimes against the Empire and take Sebastian and his mother into custody, he takes the opportunity to SynopsisSonya is a free-spirit Ranger of Marzanna; sworn to the Goddess of Winter and death, she lives off the land and protects the people of the Empire from evil. It comes at a cost, though, one that Sonya is willing to pay.Sebastian is a powerful magician who believes in order and wishes to join the Empirical Army, something his father would never allow. When soldiers murder his father for crimes against the Empire and take Sebastian and his mother into custody, he takes the opportunity to enlist in order to keep his family safe.When Sonya discovers what has happened to her family, she decides it is time for the reign of the Empire to come to an end and attempts to unite allies and rebels who are part of a budding underground revolution into one army. The goal is to drive the Empirical Army out of her homeland and free the people.As Sebastian hones his magical skills and becomes the Empirical Army’s greatest weapon, what will happen when the two meet on the battlefield? Who will win, and will each have the determination needed to kill the other in a face-to-face battle? How far will each sibling go to protect their own beliefs? The first book in The Goddess War Series seeks to answer those questions.ReviewThe Ranger of Marzanna is a story about imperialism and a people uniting against a dictatorship. That is the backdrop for a story that on the surface is a sibling rivalry: a powerful magician who has chosen to fight for the Empire, and his God-chosen sister who has decided to lead an uprising. They each take their own path, with the impetus being that eventually they are going to meet on the battlefield and will have to make tough decisions.For me, this book has two big bright spots, the first being the cover. It is absolutely amazing, from the color scheme to the tone and the artwork itself, the publisher killed it. There is so much intrigue wrapped into it that I would have probably purchased a copy myself had I walked by it on a shelf in a store, knowing nothing about the book itself. That is a huge compliment, as I am not often that impulsive.The second part of the book that I really enjoyed was Sonya’s character. She is a total badass, living life her way and making her own rules. Sonya eats what she wants, sleeps where she wants, beds who she wants. She is a Ranger of Marzanna (the only one left after they were eradicated during the war, as far as we know), and her skills are unsurpassed. A good portion of this book is Sonya going around the Empire kicking asses and not apologizing for it. Sonya carries this book, and I really enjoyed her journey.There were parts of the plot that did not connect so much with me. Sebastian’s story felt rushed to me, and with him being the second main piece that was half the book that I did not really get into. In fact, there were a lot of pieces of the book that, in my opinion, were kind of skimmed over and not developed as much as I would have liked. There was so much more to explore, and I think the story would have benefitted from going in-depth on some topics. Sebastian is the only magician or wizard in the story. Why? There must be a reason. The Goddess of Winter and Death makes an appearance, but what of the other Gods? Or is there only the one? I think there is a possibility this is looked at more closely in Book 2 of the Series, but I think adding a little explanation into this book would have created more anticipation for that part of the story that is to come. I look forward to reading the second book in the series, and hopefully having some of these questions answered.Overall, I found the Ranger of Marzanna to be a decent read with a few major flaws that took me out of the story too often. If you are into badass female leads, I recommend this book to you, as Sonya makes it all worth it.
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  • Kenzie The Dragon Queen
    January 1, 1970
    DNF | First of all I would like to thank the publisher, author, and NetGalley for so graciously providing me with a free digital advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.I'll start this review off with stating that I didn't finish this book. I wasn't enjoying my reading experience, and I wasn't able to force myself through the process of finishing this book either. I thought it would be more important and professional to submit my review to NetGalley before my three months to read DNF | First of all I would like to thank the publisher, author, and NetGalley for so graciously providing me with a free digital advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.I'll start this review off with stating that I didn't finish this book. I wasn't enjoying my reading experience, and I wasn't able to force myself through the process of finishing this book either. I thought it would be more important and professional to submit my review to NetGalley before my three months to read and review the book are up, rather than seeing how long it takes me to finish the novel.As a concept, The Ranger of Marzanna was very interesting to me. Siblings on opposing sides of a war, dangerous mysterious warriors that ride horses, and the Slavic goddess of death and winter! Not only that, but the cover is beautiful, and the name of the series makes it sound awesome! It all has great surface appeal, but as soon as I started reading, my interest began to wither.I found the book to have very odd pacing. It's a very slow read. In fact, it's unnecessarily slow in my opinion. However, it also feels rushed in certain sections, which creates a very strange pacing and unlikable writing style.The worldbuilding and fantasy aspects are good. Not great, but decent. The fact that the novel was clearly somewhat Russian, Slavic, and Ukrainian inspired was not lost on me, but it's not a very unique culture/region to draw inspiration from when it comes to fantasy novels.The whole concept of Sonya having to give away parts of herself to gain gifts was a great plot point. Reading about Sonya loosing her humanity as she grew as a Ranger and got closer to her goddess was an interesting facet.On the topic of Sonya. Even though I appreciated certain parts of her character's story, I'm not quite sure I liked her as a character. Same goes for her brother Sebastian. There was something missing that made them both seem a little hallow and uninteresting as characters. Perhaps some complexities and deeper nuances were missing from both of their overarching development that would have made them more likable or intriguing.Once again, thank you very much to everyone who was able to get a free digital advanced readers copy into my hands. I am very grateful.-----------------------------------------Three things: #1. This cover is absolutely STUNNING! It’s so beautiful, I want to show fantasy books everywhere this is the kind of thing they should be slapping onto the front of their novels!#2. I was kindly given an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m super pumped to be one of the first to read this! I’ll be reading it very soon, so stay posted!#3. I’ve been politely asked by the publisher not to post my review until two weeks prior of the book’s release, and I’m happily obliging.
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  • Elizabeth Dragina
    January 1, 1970
    DNF I got like 15% through this book . . .I would have continued or tried harder to give it a chance, but I am reading so many ARC's right now and I just don't have the time. :P PROS ~ - The world building was amazing. 😍 - The MC's were enjoyable. - PEPPERCORN 💖💖💖 - The foreshadowing and tension within the beginning. *sings* BEAUTIFUL. - The culture!!!!! - UMMM HELLO. THAT COVER. 😍CONS ~ - Content (which I'll get to in a minute) - Lack of explanation behind the MC's father's death?? Like ... DNF I got like 15% through this book . . .I would have continued or tried harder to give it a chance, but I am reading so many ARC's right now and I just don't have the time. :P PROS ~ - The world building was amazing. 😍 - The MC's were enjoyable. - PEPPERCORN 💖💖💖 - The foreshadowing and tension within the beginning. *sings* BEAUTIFUL. - The culture!!!!! - UMMM HELLO. THAT COVER. 😍CONS ~ - Content (which I'll get to in a minute) - Lack of explanation behind the MC's father's death?? Like ... basically his pride got him killed? Okay. I didn't quite get that. - There's no clear distinction between who's evil and who's not....which makes it extremely difficult to connect with the characters. - Most of the people were "meh" ... CONTENT ~ - Profanity. Bad Language. - Violence. Gory description. - Sorcery. Black Magic. - Weird (cultic?) religion where they worshiped the Lady Marzanna. - ALSO WHY DID SO MANY PPL DIE WITHIN THE FIRST SECTION OF THE BOOK. *headdesks* OMW. OVERALL ~ - I enjoyed it for the most part? - Certain scenes really annoyed me and I don't read books to feel annoyed. :P - PEPPERCORN 😍 💖💖💖 😍**FTC DISCLOSURE** I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. If anything I stated was offensive please don't take it personally, considering this is only my opinion. Thanks! :)
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  • Jason Aycock
    January 1, 1970
    When The Ranger of Marzanna arrived in the mail I was thrilled. Orbit had sent me an ARC, one of the first Ive ever received unasked for, and it was gorgeous! Just opening up the package and seeing that beautiful cover illustrated by Magali Villeneuve and designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio took my breath away. Then I flipped it over to read the blurb on the back(see Goodreads blurb)...MurderImperial intrigueSorcerySibling rivalryRangersTundra setting in winterIts safe to say after seeing the cover When The Ranger of Marzanna arrived in the mail I was thrilled. Orbit had sent me an ARC, one of the first I’ve ever received unasked for, and it was gorgeous! Just opening up the package and seeing that beautiful cover illustrated by Magali Villeneuve and designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio took my breath away. Then I flipped it over to read the blurb on the back…(see Goodreads blurb)...MurderImperial intrigueSorcerySibling rivalryRangersTundra setting in winterIt’s safe to say after seeing the cover and reading the synopsis I was super stoked about this eastern European inspired fantasy book! And you can imagine my disappointment when it didn’t live up to the images or expectations I had for it.I made it a little over 20 percent of the way through the book before I decided to set it down for good. There were a couple of things I liked apart from the list above that I’d hoped to find, and I’ll start there before explaining why I called it quits.The SettingThe setting was definitely an aspect of the book I was enjoying. We don’t see a lot of eastern European inspired fantasy and I’m particularly attracted to it. In particular the cool climate setting of the novel which made me feel cold as I read. I really take to books where the setting is well depicted and I imagined where this one was going.Magic SystemSkovron went with an elemental magic system in The Ranger of Marzanna and I was quite excited about it. What little I’d read seemed promising with plenty of details to explore.But…in the end I just couldn’t go on any more. Here’s why…What I Didn’t LikeFirst was the writing. I just wasn’t liking it. Part of it was Skovron’s prose in general. It felt formal and stilted. Part of it was the specific way info dumps were subtly (or not so subtly) woven into character speech. And not just once. I kinda hate that. Like when a character is talking about the enemy with someone from their own country and speaks like this, “Including our hated enemy, the barbarous Vaine Empire to the west.” I highlighted all the parts in that one sentence that set me off. I mean if you’re talking to someone you know real well or who is on your side you don’t have to add that the hated empire is “our hated enemy.” You both already know that. You don’t have to call them “barbarous” because if they are, you already know that too. And YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE IT’S GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION BECAUSE YOU BOTH ALREADY KNOW THAT. It’s just not believable dialogue. Find a way to tell me these things without info dumping in the dialogue.The characters. I just didn’t like them. The two siblings came across as whiny and unlikable. More on Sebastian below. Sonya…I don’t know, she just made some bad decisions early on and I never developed an attachment to her character. And one moment she’s a complete bad*ss and the next not so much. The bad*ss part as depicted early on was cool, but it was hard to believe even in a fantasy book. And then she wasn’t consistent. In truth the fact she was later vulnerable and not a perfect killing machine almost made me start liking her because there was potential for growth there. But alas it wasn’t to be because her brother just did me in.Sebastian (along with his mother) showed absolutely no believable reaction to an event that should have shattered their lives. (minor very early spoiler) Sebastian’s father is killed at the hands of imperial soldiers. Does he care? nope, not really. What does he do? He joins the guy who ordered his father killed because sure, that’s what a grieving teenage son does. And his mother (I’m forgetting her name because well she didn’t stand out to me) pretends like it’s no biggie to everyone in high society, including the man that had her husband killed. Seriously? I get that she thinks she has to pretend she’s on the side of the empire BUT EVERY NORMAL PERSON WOULD EXPECT YOU TO BE UPSET, NOT JUST GO ABOUT YOUR LIFE LIKE IT WAS A MINOR INCONVENIENCE. Just. No.Then there was the whole military thing. I’m a fan of military sci-fi/fantasy which also means I have certain expectations about getting it right, even if I admit it’s fantasy and you can make new rules. In this case it was instances of albeit new officers calling enlisted sergeants “sir” and not getting corrected, or of the same officer (Sebastian) deferring to non-officers not because he’s nice but because I guess he thinks that’s how it’s done and nobody corrects it. Then…then there was this scene where Sebastian using his magic creates a bridge out of ice. The commanding general observes it, then berates Sebastian for not creating something “of military application.” Do you see the look on my face? He’d just built a f'ing bridge. In the history of warfare bridges have been and still are of supreme f'ing military value and application. How the hell do you advance or retreat across rivers or gorges? What if you could create a bridge where one doesn’t exist, cross it, then destroy it by magic so your enemy can’t also use it? HOW IS THAT NOT OF MILITARY APPLICATION? Sebastian then basically creates a lava flow across a plain and realizes how he’s about to be used to be a baddie on behalf of the empire (who just killed his dad a couple days ago remember) and he’s like “meh.”I was done.And I’ll tell you I feel a little guilty because I know I’m bashing this book more than I normally do in a review. And I know Orbit has high hopes for this one or they wouldn’t have published it and sent it out to a bunch of us. But I just can’t recommend it. If anyone else has read it (or does read it) and you think I misjudged it or judged it too soon let me know. I’m open to hearing (or reading) your thoughts because I always want to love the books I read. So if I’m not giving it a fair shake let me know.** I was sent an ARC of this book by the publisher.DNF
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  • Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.Siblings can be a pain. Whether its the inability of the youngest ones to understand the lessons passed down by their elders or the refusal of the oldest ones to allow their little brothers and sisters a chance to forge their own identity through trial and error, theres nothing easy in this bond tied by blood. While some continue to love each other despite the omnipresent hate, others let go and move on without second thoughts. Having debuted You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.Siblings can be a pain. Whether it’s the inability of the youngest ones to understand the lessons passed down by their elders or the refusal of the oldest ones to allow their little brothers and sisters a chance to forge their own identity through trial and error, there’s nothing easy in this bond tied by blood. While some continue to love each other despite the omnipresent hate, others let go and move on without second thoughts. Having debuted his adult fantasy career with his Empire of Storms trilogy, once-actor now-author Jon Skovron looks to deepen this relationship through a brand-new fantasy trilogy with Poland/Russian influence.What is The Ranger of Marzanna about? Following the murder of their father by imperial soldiers, Sebastian Turgenev Portinari, a teenager with gifted elemental powers, is recruited by the Aureumian Empire, the very faction that killed his faster, to become a valuable asset in an upcoming war against the Uaine Empire who known for their army of the dead. His sister Sonya Turgenev Portinari, however, has other plans for his brother’s betrayal as she channels her training as a Ranger of Marzanna to join the opposition in their plans to invade Izmoroz and take down the nobility that now hosts the remainder of her family. As they each go through their respective forms of training, a war putting them both up against each other is inevitable as their personae refuse to allow each other a life free of tragedy.Falling flat in its attempt to deliver a refreshing fantasy adventure, author Jon Skovron presents a perfect example of too much telling and very little showing through characters who are less than comprehensible in their actions, thoughts, and dialog. Flawed beyond understanding, both protagonists revel in despicable personalities as they mercilessly progress through this story with firm conviction in their beliefs. With almost little sensitivity to any themes explored, whether it’s love or power, author Jon Skovron rushes through each of their development, blatantly skipping over their characterization, with no regard to the reader’s attachment to his characters.Spelling everything out without allowing any form of interpretation from the reader, he quickly dismisses any desire to get us invested in his characters, his world or his story. It doesn’t help when the absence of style in writing is also not only frustrating but gives this novel the impression of being a pitiful parody of military fantasy. Forget about a clever strategic approach to warfare, this novel pretends to understand the subgenre and cluelessly incorporates a couple of violent and gory sequences with incredible insensitivity. Top it off with a poorly developed magic lore limited to certain characters (whether it’s the Lady Marzanna culture or the elemental magic system), the whole story consumes itself in its flaws, unable to step out of the flames it ignites along the way.The plot’s pacing also denotes awkward progression that invites unfathomable inconsistencies. Imagine a 16-year-old child with potential wizardry skills progressing through army ranks faster than you can count to sixteen while also pretending to be an adult. The story ultimately feels like an immature battle of siblings who happen to have everything go their way, thus presenting us with a war between factions that, at first, seemed to hold much more gravity than what is delivered in the end. While there are a few decent ideas introduced in the first book of The Goddess War—although they are hastily skimmed over—they didn’t succeed in standing out enough to save this tale.The Ranger of Marzanna is a hinderingly dull fantasy story revolving around foolish siblings as rivals preparing a lackluster war between the Aureumian and Uaine Empires.Thank you to Orbit for sending me a copy for review!Yours truly,Lashaan | Blogger and Book ReviewerOfficial blog: https://bookidote.com/
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  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.https://femledfantasy.home.blog/2020/...
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  • Marie -The Reading Otter
    January 1, 1970
    Review: I received this book from NetGalley for review.I really enjoyed the setting and the plot, based on Russian folklore. I liked the dynamic of siblings on opposite sides of the same war. I like that the brother seems to not really know at that he is being manipulated, that his decision isn't because he's "evil", but because he's told what he's doing is for the good of the people. Sonya's path is to serve a goddess and along the way, she starts to lose some of her humanity. Where her Review: I received this book from NetGalley for review.I really enjoyed the setting and the plot, based on Russian folklore. I liked the dynamic of siblings on opposite sides of the same war. I like that the brother seems to not really know at that he is being manipulated, that his decision isn't because he's "evil", but because he's told what he's doing is for the good of the people. Sonya's path is to serve a goddess and along the way, she starts to lose some of her humanity. Where her brother is the most powerful wizard to be seen in some time, Sonya has no magic. But this book felt really long. It's well written, but it's a fairly slow-paced book, not really any action the way I was expecting. This book was also quite serious, I felt at times there was a lack of personality in some of the characters. There isn't much casual humor used when people talk to each other.
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  • Delaney Felix
    January 1, 1970
    Review for The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron Thank you so much to Orbit for sending me a copy of this to read and review! All opinions are my own. Trigger Warnings (TW): For a lot of violence/murder scenes. Stay safe, friends! Summary: When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite pathsone will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save itin this thrilling new Russian inspired epic fantasy from Jon Skovron.Sonya is training to be a Ranger Review for The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron Thank you so much to Orbit for sending me a copy of this to read and review! All opinions are my own. Trigger Warnings (TW): For a lot of violence/murder scenes. Stay safe, friends! Summary: “ When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths—one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it—in this thrilling new Russian inspired epic fantasy from Jon Skovron.Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he's fighting for the empire.” My Thoughts This one was a miss for me. I'd give it a 2.5/5 stars. I could not for the life of me get attached to either of our main characters, Sonya and Sebastian. I don’t know what it was, but the thing that kept me going was because I was so intrigued on how the gifts from Marzanna worked in this world.We follow Sonya and Sebastian, as they are siblings who are essentially fighting against each other. The beginning starts off explosively, and one of the first scenes is what acts as a catalyst and drives Sebastian towards wanting to become a soldier in the first place. I knew from the first scenes that I would probably have issues with this one. I am personally a very character driven reader, and with one of the beginning scenes we are given zero time to care about what is happening to Sebastian and his mom, Irina. I understand for the reasoning of the catalyst, but I honestly just felt nothing for what was happening. I know this is a personal opinion, but it wasn’t an opening that made me feel excited for the rest of the book.From there on we follow Sonya and Sebastian’s diverting storylines, and I definitely cared for Sonya more than Sebastian, but not by much. Both of our protagonists swing from acting childish, to being incredibly murderous individuals. What I would’ve really loved to see would’ve been more from both of their childhoods, in order for that “Opening Catalyst” to really hit hard. Sebastian’s motives for being a soldier also don’t make sense, as he ends up siding with the people who murdered his father. I needed more from his thought process for this to make sense, it just didn’t feel fleshed out to me.The writing itself is good, this book is very slow paced, and I enjoyed the interesting parts where Sonya interacts with Marzanna, and would honestly have read an entire book just about her character and the world. Overall (TLDR) I was so excited about this one, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a dual perspective and well-written book! If you’re a fan of two characters on opposite sides, and an interesting magic system, this one is for you!This book comes out on Tuesday, April 21.A huge thank you to Orbit for sending me an early copy! Go read this, and then find me on Instagram and Twitter!InstagramTwitter
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  • Joanna Bennett
    January 1, 1970
    eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.You know what I dislike? When a book that has an amazing cover is a letdown. Sure, there are things that I liked about this one but the bad reasons overshadowed them for me.This book is split into many point-of-views. There are times that I quite enjoy this because it gives us a glimpse into other plot points or the means to them but for this one I could care less about a couple of the point-of-views we got.My eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.You know what I dislike? When a book that has an amazing cover is a letdown. Sure, there are things that I liked about this one but the bad reasons overshadowed them for me.This book is split into many point-of-views. There are times that I quite enjoy this because it gives us a glimpse into other plot points or the means to them but for this one I could care less about a couple of the point-of-views we got.My biggest gripe would have to be the dialogue. For being a fantasy some characters dialogue would feel out of place and more modern especially while others around them felt more towards the time of the novel. It would always break me out of enjoying the book because the details used and the wording of everything else was great! But some of the dialogue was just clunky and hard to get through.There were awesome elements added like the lady Sonya works for. Sonya would have to give something in return for a favor. I also liked that the horse was more of a companion than just an animal used for travel. They were great aspects but were definitely overshadowed by everything else.I also had a hard time connecting to the characters. Sebastion did things that I didn’t understand and never questioned anything from the beginning. I just felt like it was odd. Sonya, his sister, was a lot cooler and I did at least like her.Overall, this book felt like it could have been a lot more and one that I would have really loved but there were just certain issues that made it hard to really get into this book.
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  • Melissa Mitchell
    January 1, 1970
    There are many ways to conquer a people, said Yuri. You can force them to submit by the sword, but that will only get you so far. To truly conquer them, you must make them forget who they are. Little by little, they chip away at what it means to be Izmorozian. This immersive epic fantasy will leave you questioning your allegiance. It will have you rooting for two siblings on opposite sides of a war. Sonya and Sebastian are two very different siblings on different paths. Sonya is one of the famed “‘There are many ways to conquer a people,’ said Yuri. ‘You can force them to submit by the sword, but that will only get you so far. To truly conquer them, you must make them forget who they are. Little by little, they chip away at what it means to be Izmorozian.’” This immersive epic fantasy will leave you questioning your allegiance. It will have you rooting for two siblings on opposite sides of a war. Sonya and Sebastian are two very different siblings on different paths. Sonya is one of the famed Rangers of Marzanna, a lethal killer, while her brother Sebastian is an elemental magic user, a tool sought after by the imperial army and possibly the most powerful sorcerer the world has seen. When their father is murdered, both set out on opposite journeys, one to serve the empire, the other to bring it down. The old Izmorozian ways are dying and Sonya wants to do everything in her power to restore old customs to their former glory. This starts by ejecting the empire from her homeland, but such a task is easier said than done. Sebastian is serving the very empire Sonya wishes to remove. He is unknowingly used as a pawn by many and will struggle to make choices for himself between what is good and what is easy. Will their paths bring them together? Will they find a way to reconcile their differences? Or will they be destined to work against each other until one falls?My new favorite fantasy of 2020! This book is beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. There’s so much originality woven into the pages I could cry. Inspired in part by Polish folklore, every turn is fresh. With rich world building details that felt immersive and realistic, I was transported to the frozen land of Izmoroz. I found myself eager for more than the plot and it’s distinct characters, desperate for a deeper understanding about Izmorozian traditions, culture, and especially the Lady of Marzanna. Jon Skovron created a unique story that still sticks with me after the final page. Every piece of his plot was meaningful. Each chapter held consequence. I never found any unnecessary filler. That kept the story moving at a rapid pace. For a long book, I didn’t find myself bored a single time. Yet, it was easy to put the book down when I needed to walk away. Some books have too many cliff hangers after each chapter, which can leave one a little jaded for longer stories. That wasn’t the case here. Still, I was glued from page one where we discover just how lethal a Ranger of Marzanna can be. I loved Sonya’s bad-assery. Her strong female character left me confident, yet there were times that she displayed obvious flaws, times she did not always succeed. I like that she was genuine. Sebastian was even more flawed than his sister. In terms of character depth, his character was darker and carried more faults. Yet, I never found myself hating him because I was there for each moment that shaped him. In the end, his decisions made sense, even if they were a little frustrating. I only hope that we see some redemption in him as the series continues.If you like political intrigue this story is dripping with it. Every character has deeper motives that aren’t apparent from the beginning. It’s hard to know each, yet I learned to appreciate the characters because I came to know their strengths and weaknesses on a more intimate level. Their voices are all different, so there was never a time I felt stagnant. We get to see the story from multiple points of view, and I really enjoyed that. It added so much depth.A huge thank you to NetGalley and Orbit books for the ARC. I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to review this beauty. And a huge round of applause for Jon Skovron for his amazing work on what is certain to be a fantastic start to an amazing series!
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  • RG
    January 1, 1970
    2.5* Russian folklore inspired fantasy. Ive read Skovrons previous trilogy and it was fun without being oringal. It did have a YAish feel to the writing and I felt although this was a little darker the writing still had the same feel.Overall the world building was great. Cold bleak landscapes with a solid magic system which wasnt overly complicated. My issues were really in the plot and characters.Plotwise it was too simple plus limited. Really not alot occurs. I wouldn't go as far to say its a 2.5* Russian folklore inspired fantasy. Ive read Skovrons previous trilogy and it was fun without being oringal. It did have a YAish feel to the writing and I felt although this was a little darker the writing still had the same feel.Overall the world building was great. Cold bleak landscapes with a solid magic system which wasnt overly complicated. My issues were really in the plot and characters.Plotwise it was too simple plus limited. Really not alot occurs. I wouldn't go as far to say its a slow burn like some LitFiction but other than the first scene with Sebastian and parents the book moves at a slow pace. I guess this was meant to be intro or prologue to the world in some ways.The main characters of Sonya and Seb were brother sister fighting on different sides. We learnt right away for why this is the case. It just felt too easy in my opinion for then to go this way. The brothers actions just dont make much sense. Even his initial thoughts about his father are shockingly weird. I think that was what held this book back. The characters were annoying and indecisive so were not easily relatable. Protagonists need some reliability otherwise the reader will not engage (although Mark Lawrence got me hooked on Jorg). Solid fantasy writing but just didnt hit the mark as compared to whats being written at the moment.
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  • Andi
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 10% in.This was an ARC I had gotten from the publisher.I didn't finish this book. I think the problem I had was that the characters are very, VERY modern. Which didn't really make sense since it was a fantasy-esque setting. Not only that, it had a very juvenile way of storytelling.I had tried reading a book by this author a few years ago and I thought that with a change of location and or plot themes this would be a better fit. Now I know that I truly cannot connect with this author's DNF @ 10% in.This was an ARC I had gotten from the publisher.I didn't finish this book. I think the problem I had was that the characters are very, VERY modern. Which didn't really make sense since it was a fantasy-esque setting. Not only that, it had a very juvenile way of storytelling.I had tried reading a book by this author a few years ago and I thought that with a change of location and or plot themes this would be a better fit. Now I know that I truly cannot connect with this author's work.
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  • Maia
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so excited for this!!!!I hope I like it as much as Hope & Red! :D
  • Ria the Reader
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 🌟Review to come!!!
  • Munch
    January 1, 1970
    3.75I received an arc of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.The first half of this book I thought that this was a standard 2.5-3 star book. The storyline wasn't particularly unique and I didn't feel that invested in the characters. However I found myself really enjoying and connecting more with the characters in the last half. The stakes were raised and there was more action. At first I didn't actually like Sonya much, she was strong-willed and badass but I found her 3.75I received an arc of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.The first half of this book I thought that this was a standard 2.5-3 star book. The storyline wasn't particularly unique and I didn't feel that invested in the characters. However I found myself really enjoying and connecting more with the characters in the last half. The stakes were raised and there was more action. At first I didn't actually like Sonya much, she was strong-willed and badass but I found her distance and kind of distain towards her family annoying, also her single mindeness unrelatable. However once she started to interact with certain characters, I started to see her as actually quite amusing and I slowly became more fond of her. I also think that the annoyance that I started to have with her brother helped me to become more on her side. I started out feeling sorry for Sebastian and kind of protective of him but as he showed himself to be ruled by his emotions and so corruptible from those around him, he started to aggravate me, which is obviously the author's plan. I wanted to shake some sense into him! There is still hope that he is not completely unredeemable though. I do understand his struggle and he is so young and naive, people take advantage, I feel that near the end he was starting to see through some of the lies that had been told to him.Galina is a interesting character to read from, when she is introduced you don't realise what a important part she'll play. Her feelings towards Sebastian are complicated, with good reason! She isn't just the sweet, soft love interest as she seems in the beginning.My favourite characters had to be Jorge and Blaine. Jorge is just so kind and caring. He's loyal and is sometimes the voice of much needed reason to Sonya (I see a few parallels between his role with Sonya and Galina's with Sebastian). When Blaine was introduced was when I started to actually enjoy myself, his humour brought some needed relief from the up to then quite serious characters. I'm especially intrigued to see how all three character's relationship might end up. I see much potential there.Overall not the most unique plot and set up but the characters have depth and the magic system is pretty interesting, I'm interested to see what happens next.
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  • Kendal (TatooineReads)
    January 1, 1970
    The Ranger of Marzanna is the first in an amazing new trilogy by Jon Skovron. The Goddess Wars is a trilogy in the dark fantasy vein and its one that I am highly anticipating. The Ranger of Marzanna (Book one) is knock you r socks off fantastic!Think a female version of Tolkiens Ranger character Strider in a fantastical medieval Russia of a fantasy world with magic abound and battles between warring fractions imminent. Sonya is a fierce and kickass character and one I am SO EXCITED to follow the The Ranger of Marzanna is the first in an amazing new trilogy by Jon Skovron. The Goddess Wars is a trilogy in the dark fantasy vein and it’s one that I am highly anticipating. The Ranger of Marzanna (Book one) is knock you r socks off fantastic!Think a female version of Tolkien’s Ranger character Strider in a fantastical medieval Russia of a fantasy world with magic abound and battles between warring fractions imminent. Sonya is a fierce and kickass character and one I am SO EXCITED to follow the adventures of. A veritable Feyre or Aelin but for adults - Sonya is marvellous. If you’ve not got this on your list, add it now! You’re going to kick yourself if you miss it.Definitely a new favourite in my list. 🖤🖤
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    The received an ARC of this book from the publisher...I loved the setting of this book. It felt like 18th century Russia to me. The characters were like able and there was a fair amount of humor surprisingly mixed in to the action. The magic systems are very unique, especially when it comes the Ranger, Sonya. Jorge was very like able but I thought his role was a tad understated. I do feel the story was rushed along at times and it book could have benefited from more detail. The first 1/3 of the The received an ARC of this book from the publisher...I loved the setting of this book. It felt like 18th century Russia to me. The characters were like able and there was a fair amount of humor surprisingly mixed in to the action. The magic systems are very unique, especially when it comes the Ranger, Sonya. Jorge was very like able but I thought his role was a tad understated. I do feel the story was rushed along at times and it book could have benefited from more detail. The first 1/3 of the book was this way and the last 1/3 seemed forced at times. I am definitely curious to see what the next installment has to offer!
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    DNF, not for me
  • Reece
    January 1, 1970
    ARC from NetGalley3.5 starsThis was an interesting and enjoyable read. I wish that the author had injected a bit more culture into this book. I quite enjoyed that facet but found it lacking. I wanted to see the outfits, smell the food, feel as if I was living it. The magic system was interesting if limited. I am hoping that it is expanded upon further in the coming books. I didn't like Sonya. She isn't very likeable. She is meant to be crass and uncultured, but it just comes across as ARC from NetGalley3.5 starsThis was an interesting and enjoyable read. I wish that the author had injected a bit more culture into this book. I quite enjoyed that facet but found it lacking. I wanted to see the outfits, smell the food, feel as if I was living it. The magic system was interesting if limited. I am hoping that it is expanded upon further in the coming books. I didn't like Sonya. She isn't very likeable. She is meant to be crass and uncultured, but it just comes across as anachronistic, which pulled me out of the story and irritated me. Her fight is shallow. It is all for her country and her goddess, but does her country really suffer so much? Is her goddess even beneficial to the people? She is the goddess of death and winter. She seems to revel in suffering. Why is this a good thing? Just because it has always been, and it was ours so we want it back? There could have been more exposition to justify it all. The story would have benefited from that IMO.Sebastian is a whiny little bitch prone to bouts of childish rage. I hope he either takes an arrow to the eye or gets his shit together and stops sucking in the next book. At first I was pro Sebastian, but as the story went on he became progressively less likeable and more hateable. I really do hope he gets it together if only for Galina, who is one of the few likeable characters in this book.Oh and their mom can suck it too. I really wanted to gut punch her a few times.The ending was not satisfying. It just left me very angry at a few characters and not sufficiently sated in other respects. All that said, this was a relatively enjoyable read, and I have hope that the next book can make up for the faults of the first.
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  • Kate (BloggingwithDragons)
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my reviewI really wanted to like The Ranger of Marzanna, but unfortunately, due to its simplistic writing and unbelievable characters and dialogue, I barely made it to the 50% mark of the book. And I actually wanted to stop reading at 8%. Though The Ranger of Marzanna has some great ideas, namely surrounding its Ranger, Sonya, and the goddess of death she I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my reviewI really wanted to like The Ranger of Marzanna, but unfortunately, due to its simplistic writing and unbelievable characters and dialogue, I barely made it to the 50% mark of the book. And I actually wanted to stop reading at 8%. Though The Ranger of Marzanna has some great ideas, namely surrounding its Ranger, Sonya, and the goddess of death she serves, as well as two siblings on opposite sides of religion and war, there simply isn’t enough complexity in the characters or the world to make it worth a read.  “ It was said that with each ‘gift’ of the Lady, a Ranger became less human, both in body and in mind.”  Not too surprisingly, my favorite part of the novel pertains to Sonya, who decorates the gorgeous cover. Sonya is one of the last Rangers of Marzanna. In ancient times, there were many more rangers, who were well-known, revered and respected. Recently, they defended the Izomoroz people from the invading empire and when they failed to prevent the invasion, were exterminated and the worship of their goddess, Lady Marzanna, outlawed. Sonya, of course, grows up under the tutelage of one of the last rangers (who just so happens to work for her father), learning how to hunt, give thanks to the Ranger’s goddess of death, commune with horses, and also to fight in battles extremely well. But there’s a catch, Sonya must give up parts of her humanity in service to her goddess of death, Lady Marzanna, whether she wants to or not. I think this is a really interesting concept, but sadly, like the rest of the book, it isn’t pulled off well. Sonya is portrayed to be a free-thinking, clever, independent, feminist character. She’s not a typical heroine. The novel makes sure to tell readers in a cringeworthy scene where she discusses premarital sex with her friend, that she’s not a virgin. In fact, she acts confused by the whole marriage and no premarital sex thing that is prevalent in her world in attempt to blatantly demonstrate that she’s not like other women who let society dictate their sexual pleasure. Upon reading this, all I could think was that it was very clearly a man writing this scene in which Sonya asks her virgin male friend who is interested in her why he doesn’t believe in premarital sex as they cuddle together for warmth in the tundra. It's quite the choice to make Sonya's sexual history a topic when we know so little about the character's background and she has so little development. The rest of the time, when the novel isn’t overly concerned with her sexual history, Sonya slaughters men without a second-thought, and fights for what she believes in without any second thoughts. But she’s not very likable or convincing--having virtually no worries--and seems to be good at literally everything. Everyone who meets her immediately likes her, despite the fact that she has no trouble murdering people or serving a goddess of death. I also thought it very odd that her father, who was willing to die in order to prevent his son, Sebastian from using his magical powers and being drafted into the military, was okay with his daughter becoming a member of an outlawed sect, when most women are doing typical things like sewing, dancing, or reading. It didn’t make any sense to me. Neither did her supposed famous Ranger bond with her horse, Peppercorn, which only amounts to her talking to her horse and treating her more like a dog or cat than livestock or transportation. What a huge letdown this supposed “bond” was for my inner horse-lover. (If you want to read a fantasy novel with decent bonds between horses and their riders, check out the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain instead). But what was worse than any of this, is Sebastian and the rest of the family being completely unaffected by their father’s death, which happens immediately in the novel. There is no time to get to know the family, their lifestyle, their backgrounds, their personalities or anything. In the blink of an eye, Sebastian’s father is murdered by the Empire’s soldiers and taken to their capital city. Sebastian waits maybe two whole seconds before enlisting in the army of the man who ordered his father killed for keeping their son from enlisting in the armed services. We are told repeatedly that Sebastian’s mother is grieving, and she actually tells us that she feels like she lost a limb with her husband’s death, but she immediately buys new dresses, takes up a lover and her old noble maiden name, and begins scheming politically. So what we are shown is very different from what the author tells the reader, creating a very baffling and ubiquitous disconnect in his story that grows frustrating from the very beginning of The Ranger of Marzanna.   “‘Oho!’ Velikhov sat up. ‘A quest, is it? Perilous adventure? Travel to distant and dangerous lands?’”  This disconnect extends to the rest of the story too. The writing is very basic. The dialogue is often very cheesy and oversimplified, with characters just stating things outright to tell the reader constantly. I cannot believe the things that came out of the characters’ mouths. To top it off, there is not much time spent on character development, world-building, or anything else--except descriptions of gore. I am still stunned by how detailed the descriptions of violence were in comparison to the rest of the novel, which almost reads like a list of soap-operatic actions happening in very quick succession. It is unbelievable to me that at one point  I read that Sebastian had supposedly been in his new military home for a month. It felt like minutes. In that small amount of time, he was for some reason promoted twice, engaged, and given a battalion to order around despite having absolutely zero experience.   It certainly does not help matters that Sebastian does not have to struggle at all to use his magical powers. There is no intense training or failures, he just tries and succeeds at blowing everyone’s minds as soon as he starts trying to use the abilities he was never before even allowed to practice during his lifetime. Plus, readers have no idea how this magic even works--other than that the military slapped a diamond into Sebastian’s hands for him to use as a conduit for some reason and he is suddenly magically able to rip up the earth as a warfare technique.   “ He felt at once that this was no frivolous noble, but someone who thought and felt things deeply. Perhaps even as deeply as him.”  But honestly, I do not even want to see Sebastian struggle. I do not care for him or any of the other characters. They are more archetypes than actual well-developed characters that read like what the author thinks his characters should be like, rather than fleshed out, flawed humans on paper. Unfortunately, that makes them very unbelievable and boring. It doesn’t help that what we do know about the characters is mainly just told to readers, rather than shown. And as I said before, what we are told, doesn’t even add up to what we are shown. Another example of this is being told Sebastian is a very sensitive boy, who loves reading poetry and nature, and "feels things keenly," but we never actually see him doing any of these things or taking things hard before we are told this about his character! In the beginning of the novel, we are told he thinks his sister is crazy for spending all of that time in the woods, and we never see him reading, or bonding with animals, or gardening or anything remotely like his sudden sensitive description. And we certainly don’t see him depressed or feeling guilty after his father’s death. Instead, he immediately signs up in the magical military and learns how to destroy the earth in battle. We are told this rips him up inside, but never see it--all we see is him practicing more magical destruction and getting promoted constantly, and never protesting. There’s just no continuity in the novel and it requires so much suspension of disbelief just to read it.  And though The Ranger of Marzanna promises an epic conflict between siblings, there is not really much of a conflict between them at all. At least, up until the point I read, there is only one brief disagreement between Sebastian and Sonya and a few references to Sonya thinking Sebastian was “bratty” etc., and then the two went their separate ways again, disregarding each other and their fundamental differences in beliefs. Maybe they will have a confrontation later on, but as the two siblings barely had anything to do with each other, I couldn’t picture any fight being emotional or climactic. Even with the promise of Sonya’s superhuman ranger powers and Sebastian’s magical abilities that might make a fight somewhat interesting, it just wasn’t enough to keep me going through the novel. Neither was the very skimpy world building of The Ranger of Marzanna. It takes place in a fantasy world inspired by Eastern Europe. But the setting and culture isn’t really delved into. There isn’t anything to it other than the cold winter that the characters were already adapted to and the Russian-sounding phrases the author sprinkles in. I also feel the Eastern European phrases like “babushka” did not necessarily fit in with the name of the people--the Izomoroz--and even their goddess Marzanna. I am certainly not an authority on anything Eastern European or slavic, but the novel simply didn’t give me enough information to make the culture or setting feel real or vital to the magic, the story, or the characters. It did not make me believe in this world or become fully engrossed in it. Ultimately, The Ranger of Marzanna is definitely not for me. When I read the description, I was picturing an epic fantasy with complex, conflicted characters on opposite sides of a war, and lots of world-building. I was picturing something more along the lines of a Brandon Sanderson novel. Sadly, though The Ranger of Marzanna has some good ideas, such as the rangers giving up their humanity for powers, the execution of these ideas wasn’t good enough to keep me reading. Combined with flat characters, cheesy dialogue, little explanation of the world and its magic systems, I couldn’t stick out the book, though I tried. Perhaps those new to the fantasy series will enjoy the novel’s faster-paced story, but those familiar with the genre will surely find it lacking.
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  • Valerie
    January 1, 1970
    Received an ARC from Netgalley for a honest reviewI enjoyed the book and its rich world building. People had russian names which made me think the author must have done some research to interwine russian/ukrainian culture/history in this book. The character, Sonya was likeable enough but at times, I winced at her brashness and gung ho personality that made her not fear anything, or the repercussions her actions would have on other people which did make sense given her role in this book. Her Received an ARC from Netgalley for a honest reviewI enjoyed the book and its rich world building. People had russian names which made me think the author must have done some research to interwine russian/ukrainian culture/history in this book. The character, Sonya was likeable enough but at times, I winced at her brashness and gung ho personality that made her not fear anything, or the repercussions her actions would have on other people which did make sense given her role in this book. Her brother, Sebastian was likeable at first, and he tried his best to be a good person but it was galling that his mother and girlfriend, who think they have his best interest at heart, never communicated with him what they really thought about him. I think their opinion would have weighed heavier than than Vittorio. There were some scenes that blurred by too quickly, like the crossing back across the tundra, which I think could be fleshed out more, or more about the people, the Uain. Overall, I enjoyed the book but think there could be more fleshing out of some characters.
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  • Alyshia
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free arc in exchange for an honest review. Rating: 4.75I absolutely loved this book. It exceeded my expectations in every way. The Ranger of Marzanna sucked me in for the beginning and never let go. I was kind of apprehensive about starting this story since it was so large. I love to read, but most books 400+ pages seem to drag on after a while. Im tired of the useless descriptions and politics. I decided to start this on my breaks at work while I Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free arc in exchange for an honest review. Rating: 4.75I absolutely loved this book. It exceeded my expectations in every way. The Ranger of Marzanna sucked me in for the beginning and never let go. I was kind of apprehensive about starting this story since it was so large. I love to read, but most books 400+ pages seem to drag on after a while. I’m tired of the useless descriptions and politics. I decided to start this on my breaks at work while I read a hard copy of The Bone Houses at home. I flew through this. Day one: 32% done. Day two: 69%. Day three: finished.! All this while finishing another book and working full time, plus having a toddler running around. And the day isn’t over yet. I was shocked by how much I loved this book and how much it sucked me it. I adored the Russian aspects to the story; the Magic was unique. The characters were good, except Irina. She drove me crazy. The sibling rivalry was also unique in its own ways. I have every intention of buying this book once it releases, and I cannot wait for the next to come out.
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  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    After his father is murdered by imperial Aureumian soldiers, Sebastian and his mother are taken to Gogoleth where he is persuaded to join the Aureumian army stationed in his homeland of Izmoroz. As an elemental wizard, the Aureumian commander sees him as vastly useful as they anticipate a Spring invasion by the Uaine. Despite being half Izmorozian and half Aureumian, Sebastian's loyalties become aligned to the Aureumians. But Sebastian has an older sister, one of the last remaining Rangers of After his father is murdered by imperial Aureumian soldiers, Sebastian and his mother are taken to Gogoleth where he is persuaded to join the Aureumian army stationed in his homeland of Izmoroz. As an elemental wizard, the Aureumian commander sees him as vastly useful as they anticipate a Spring invasion by the Uaine. Despite being half Izmorozian and half Aureumian, Sebastian's loyalties become aligned to the Aureumians. But Sebastian has an older sister, one of the last remaining Rangers of Marzanna who protect Izmoroz, Sonya, who will do everything in her power to liberate her homeland as she serves a goddess of death. Even if it means allying herself with an enemy nation.I quite enjoy stories about siblings, both when they're at odds with each other and when they work together, so I was intrigued by this book. I was also really curious about who, exactly, Sonya was intent on recruiting, as well as how a confrontation between brother and sister would go. This turned out to be not exactly what I had expected, but was different in a way I really liked.The Characters: A Charming Main CastI found the characters to be interesting and quite representative of their respective culture, which really helped to showcase the world building. At the same time, things seemed a little too easy for them. Their decisions were quick, their actions were decisive, there was little stewing around about what to do. It felt more like they were being pulled along by the story.However, I was charmed by most of the main cast. Despite the fact that they just embodied their cultures, they were fun and meshed well with each other. I did love that, at the end, so many of them were revealed as having ulterior motives, indicating there's more to them than what was presented at first. I look forward to what the next book has to offer about them and their schemes and machinations.I most enjoyed Sonya, Jorge, and Blaine, who represented 3 different cultures. Their differences were fun to see as they interacted and became friends. I think the only thing that bothered me about them was the romantic undertones to their relationships with each other. It felt unnecessary and distracting, and a bit out of place. But Sonya was a lot of fun. She always seemed good-natured and in high spirits, even in serious situations. I also found her unique speech pattern to be refreshing and just as much fun as her. Jorge was adorable as his religion holds him to strict rules. He did seem a bit prudish, but it somehow just made him more charming. Blaine was interesting and almost as fun as Sonya. We don't get to know him quite as well, but I got the feeling there might not have been much more to get to know about him. He seemed to be refreshingly upfront, and a typical brash young warrior.As for Sebastian and his intended Galina, an Izmorozian noblewoman in Gogoleth, I understood their relationship completely, but felt my heart aligning more with Galina. Just as Sebastian and Sonya became divided over their loyalties, so too did this young couple, though I was surprised by the turns it took. While I was charmed by Galina's bookish nature and quiet intelligence, I quickly came to be equally un-charmed by Sebastian. He just seemed young and impressionable, which made him a blind follower in every area of his life. He never seemed to stop and think about anything other than himself and his magic. I do hope that he grows up in the next book as there were signs of uncertainty in his path, but I'm afraid he might be eternally young, stupid, and angry.The Setting: Based on Eastern European FolktalesThe last fantasy I read was very typically Eurocentric, so, I expected more of the same from this one as the book description didn't indicate anything otherwise. In a way, I was right, but I was thrilled it was also quite different. The author is of Polish descent and several reviews note the book is based on Polish and Russian folklore. I definitely got a strong War and Peace vibe from this book, especially reading about the nobility's mannerisms and speech patterns. I found it delightful, charming, and quite different from a lot of the fantasy I have read over the years.When the story opens, there's a great deal of snow mentioned. At first, I was a little confused because I'm used to things like trees, dirt, and little to no snow. But then I started to get an Eastern European vibe and it all finally made sense. I very much enjoyed immersing myself in Izmoroz. It seems too snowy and cold for my tastes, but I could easily imagine the small villages and towns as well as Gogoleth. It was both charming and depressing, especially as the vast divide between life in Gogoleth and the small villages was starkly apparent. I even found the tundra to be quite interesting!This book introduced not only an interesting world in terms of setting where most of it is snowy instead of woodsy (though there's a fair amount of woods), but also in culture. I really liked that it reminded me of War and Peace, especially in terms of the high society in Gogoleth. It felt a little stilted and formal at first, but, once I acclimated, I found I really enjoyed it and loved being immersed in this world.I'd like to also mention that the Uaine have a very Celtic feel to them in terms of their speech patterns and their society. I found them to be quite boisterous and a complete counterpoint to the more stuffy Izmorozians. As I really enjoy all things Celtic, I loved that this book brought together my enjoyment of that culture as well as my fondness for War and Peace.The Plot: Always Moving, Sometimes at a GallopI loved that this story moved along at a very nice clip. It never seemed to lag, but did seem to leap at times. There were gaps that the reader is left to fill in based on prior information as well as what happened after. I didn't find it too troubling, but the jumps and then the lack of ever really mentioning it again were a little puzzling. It almost felt as though chunks of this story had been cut out and the edges not quite seamlessly sewn together.Still, I found myself unwilling to put this book down. The author knew just when to end a chapter and when to switch viewpoints. It definitely kept me reading to find out how everyone's plans would turn out and how the clash between the siblings would go. I wouldn't call this fast-paced, but it did move along at a good canter.The one thing that bothered me was the violence and goriness. Of course, it did involve someone serving a death goddess, so it made sense, but it was a little too gross for me. At the same time, I have read worse, and recently, but I was taken aback by just how peppered throughout the book it was. Still, it could have been worse, though it did help to highlight a bit of Izmorozian and Ranger culture.I really enjoyed the story of siblings being on opposite sides, though there was still some feeling of love between them. It wasn't as heart-wrenching as I would have liked, but it provided enough for me to feel like they were siblings. I liked that the story followed them equally and really showed how different their paths were as well as how they progressed to where they were when they came face to face after quite some time apart.Overall: Never BoringThis book has plenty of fun characters and interesting cultures. It moves at a good pace that never seemed to bore me. There were hints of broader intentions and some intrigue, but I felt it was more focused on the action than the subtleties. Still, it was a good introduction to the series and I have high hopes for the next book.Thank you to Angela Man from Orbit for a free e-ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Jon Adams
    January 1, 1970
    2.5. There just wasn't much to like about this book. I couldn't connect with any of the characters, the pace was meandering, and I just wanted it to be over. I did finish it though.
  • Sheila Goicea
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book from Orbit Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.I really enjoyed this one! RTC 4/22/20!-------THIS BOOK. WITH THAT COVER. I think I've found one of my most anticipated reads for 2020?It's a new Epic fantasy trilogy, set in eastern Europe (in the Winter, OK). It focuses on squabbling siblings, magic, and LOYAL HORSES!? Please, someone, give this to me. (Information found on Orbit's website.) I received an ARC of this book from Orbit Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.I really enjoyed this one! RTC 4/22/20!-------THIS BOOK. WITH THAT COVER. I think I've found one of my most anticipated reads for 2020?It's a new Epic fantasy trilogy, set in eastern Europe (in the Winter, OK). It focuses on squabbling siblings, magic, and LOYAL HORSES!? Please, someone, give this to me. (Information found on Orbit's website.)My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook
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