I received a copy from the author to read and review in return.
How lucky am I, to have the author remind me of a series which I completely fell in love with from the first pages of the first book, Catalyst, and wondering if I would like to read his second book of this series. YES PLEASE! What Once Was One is definitely one of those books which helped me remind myself why I love reading; escaping reality and entering a new and wild world full of magic, fantastical creatures and characters, and blissful and sometimes wrathful environments of fantasy. Marc Johnson has such a sophistication about his way of writing, but undoubtedly is capable of keeping all types of readers, may it be Young Adult or Adult, consistently engaged and tensed, with each chapter ending with a ruthful and nail biting cliffhanger.
What Once Was One commences where we left off in the first instalment of the series. Hellfire, the awesome and powerful new Wizard of the Northern Shala, has defeated and weakened the great powerful and evil Wizard Premier. Hellsfire his forced to follow his Duty as a wizard, to protect his home and save the goodness of magic, and decides to embark a dangerous journey as the threat of Premier's wrath and dark magic through the Book of Shazul has still not ended to threaten the Kingdom of Alexandria.
His journey is not lonesome, as he is companioned with some of the most hilarious and heartwarming friends I have ever had the pleasure to read about: Jastillian the powerful and whimsical Dwarf, Prastian and Demay the two small but undeceivably strong and rigorous Elven brothers; and Behast the tough but faithful Elf who has the strength and fighting technique of a Dwarf. Each character has their own background which the reader undoubtedly and inevitably connects intensely with, which in turn makes the story even more enjoyable to follow.
The journey which they embark on is not only dangerous, but also extremely exciting, as they venture out through the Wastelands and unknown landscapes, encountering the most impossible situations and new characters, but finding the most clever and unique solutions which fueled the book to be even more addictive.
Marc Johnson thinks about everything! To mouthwatering, mesmerising, and oh-so-accurate descriptions of langscapes, food, and characters; to the way he develops his characters and their interconnecting relationships. Hellsfire grows into an even more badass character, as his powers are progressively getting stronger and his intelligence in magic is finally put to the test and paying off. Hellsfire's relationship with his strong love Krystal, the beautiful, determined and strong headed princess of Alexandria, was not at any moment dull or exasperating. I felt so much for them, and rooted for them and their love all the way. Nothing to their relationship was cliche, predictable or unrealistic. It was the golden thread of the story and what made Hellsfire the great wizard that he is. The only character which I truly missed in this book was Cynder, the sarcastic, callous but affectionate fiery Dragon. But who knows, perhaps he will reappear in the final instalment of this esteemed series.
The story is quite lengthy, and when standing aside and thinking about what you've just read, SO much happens in this book. However, not at one moment did I feel that this book was becoming lifeless, repetitive or overdone. I believe this is due to Mr Johnson's extreme talent in keeping the reader continuously anxious about 'what comes next", through his strong set of skills and art of writing style, choice of characters, and his capability of portraying an atmosphere where even the reader trembles of excitement, anger, despair or trepidation.
I can say with the utmost confidence that any reader with an interest in fantasy, a non-stop bone-thrilling, romantic, and merciless storyline, tasteful and deeply developed set of characters, will absolutely love Mr. Johnson series, The Passage of Hellsfire. I cannot wait to read the next book of this wonderful and inspiring story collection.