Dragon’s Trail by Joseph Malik


Dragon’s Trail by Joseph Malik
The Outworlders, Book One
Publisher: Oxblood Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (436 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

“I didn’t come here to sell my soul. I came here to buy it back.”

Once dubbed “The Deadliest Man Alive,” Jarrod Torrealday is a former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert banned from competition for killing another fencer in a duel. He now scrapes by as a stuntman and technical consultant for low-budget fantasy films.

A young sorcerer from another world offers Jarrod the gig of a lifetime: adviser to the war council for a magical realm teetering on the edge of collapse, with a foreign army massing just beyond its borders.

Swept into a treacherous and deadly world of intrigue and conspiracy, Jarrod soon learns that the enemy mastermind is also from Earth, and has laid the foundations for a new kind of war.

Jarrod has nothing left to lose.

Jarrod’s life is in shambles. At the height of his career, he lost it all and has been in a tailspin ever since. When Crius, a sorcerer from another world, approaches Jarrod with the opportunity to be a hero again, he gladly accepts. Fortunately, Jarrod isn’t going alone. His good friend Carter, also an exceptionally skilled warrior, is invited as well. Together they have the power to turn the tide of war.

Jarrod and Carter adapt to the medievalesque world of Gateskeep very quickly. While they are well versed in the weaponry and armor of that type of civilization, I would think that knowing about it would be quite different from actually living it. They did have quite a bit to learn, but they acclimated to their new surroundings just a bit too easily for my taste.

Jarrod is a very likable character. He doesn’t tolerate bullies, and he never hesitates to stand up for those in need of his help. His fighting and weaponry skills are far beyond anything the people of Gateskeep have ever seen. While many are impressed with Jarrod’s skill, others seek to eliminate him immediately. In fact, Jarrod finds himself in so many fights that I began to wonder if he would even live to see the war. However, Jarrod wins practically every conflict he becomes tangled in. Ordinarily, I would say this is unrealistic, but Mr. Malik makes it seem completely plausible. As if his skill in combat weren’t enough, Jarrod also has the brains to back up his brawn. He has the ability to analyze his enemies and predict their next moves on the battlefield and off. As I read, I eagerly anticipated his confrontation with the sorcerer.

Perhaps the most striking thing about his novel is Mr. Malik’s attention to detail. Absolutely everything, the fights, weaponry, people, animals, weather, etc., is described meticulously making this strange new world feel very concrete and realistic. Consequently, I feel that this is not a book to race through. It is a book to savor and soak in all the details.

I highly recommend Dragon’s Trail. I thoroughly enjoyed following Jarrod and Carter’s adventures in Gateskeep, and I look forward to the next installment in the series. Fans of fantasy would do well to pick up a copy today.