"Ascension by Marc R. Micciola is a well-written fantasy with an eye-catching cover image. The description and cover caught my attention right from the start, but it was the characters that kept me pushing forward, page after page, to learn the fate of Midstad and Einar. The book reminded me of the Lord of the Rings series with the author’s beautiful world-building and the different races, yet while there were some similarities, this book is original. I liked that the story was not just a fantasy adventure, but also a mystery as I longed to discover the truth about Kemryr, alongside the King of Hestferd and his son Einar. I loved this story and I hope to get the chance to read the second of the series in the future!” — Safina Hawke for Readers’ Favorite
Marc R. Micciola has accomplished much in his first book of his Age of Shadow saga, “Ascension”, creating a vividly described world of darkness and magic, as you would expect of the genre. Set in the mythical world of Midstad, the novel concerns itself with the kingdoms that make up Micciola’s fantasy world, the key people that inhabit them and the perceived external threat that is on the horizon, which may upset the precarious equilibrium that is currently established. In “Ascension”, this threat manifests itself as The Black Light, orchestrated by Otti, who is a magical being, who appears to all intents to be a goddess—incredible power; the ability to manipulate humans for her purpose; threatening behavior which displays her otherworldliness; shapeshifting; a single-minded motive for her own ends; and warped familial relationships.
The novel is told throughout in the first person, but the perspective is constantly shifting from chapter to chapter. The events of the narrative unfold for the reader through the eyes of many characters in the book, but focusing on key powerful individuals from the various kingdoms and warring factions. The fact that this constant shift did not interrupt the flow of my reading of the novel is testament to Micciola’s writing skill. All of the voices of his created characters were distinctive and the fact that each chapter was named after the character from whose perspective we followed the action meant that there was never any confusion. There were some characters who were more entertaining than others, but none of them were dull. Lively dialogue and discussion permeated the book, banter between characters being one of the key things that I like in good fantasy novels.
But this is not all light. There are dark scenes in the book where key characters are attacked and Micciola does not shirk from describing the violence in detail. It is not gratuitous, but it is descriptive. I especially liked a key fighting scene which I thought was evocative, the battlefield coming alive in the way that Micciola wove his words together.
The book leads to an ending which is a perfect cliffhanger for the first book in a series to keep fans of “Ascension” keen for the sequel. I certainly felt enticed to find out what will happen next in the saga in the way it ended.
All in all, “Ascension” by Marc R. Micciola is a good fantasy read which will appeal to readers who enjoy the genre.
— Rachel Deeming for Reader Views
"Ascension was a novel that captured my attention from the very beginning. It had a strong introduction and the events of the first few chapters, which are the drive of the story, were riveting to read…The world-building in this story is magnificent and at times I found myself with beautiful images in my head of what it all might look like, also, I loved the map that was provided at beginning. Something that I must mention is that this is a novel written in first person POV and personally, I am not a big fan of it in general. A lot of stories don't handle it well, but that was not the case with Ascension, with the opposite in fact, the more I read, the more I enjoyed it and for that I am happy. By the end of the novel, I was truly invested in the plot and the characters and wanted to keep on reading. Sadly that could no be the case because I had reached the end but I'm glad to know that this is only book one. I will definitely be keeping an eye on The Age of Shadow Saga so I can know what happens and how everything will be resolved, and if you like the fantasy genre, this is one novel that I would recommend picking up. It was a great and fun novel to read and I can't wait to read more.” — Evelyn Hadley for Reedsy
"Between the expansive word building and a vast cast of characters, including humans, elves, dwarves, and various dark forces among others, Micciola expertly brings his characters to life, giving them a refreshingly humane touch and making the readers invested in their flawed personalities. The narrative is addictive, and the pacing expert. The multi-layered plot is woven tightly, the prose is intriguing without being elaborate, and the high action and relentless suspense keep the pages flying. There is no dull moment, and the liveliness of the narrative makes it an electrifying read. This engrossing tale heavy on shifting loyalties, political intrigues, and ever-changing relations both fascinates and entertains. Micciola is an author to watch.” — BookView Review
“With a decidedly darker edge to the narrative, Micciola builds a spectacularly detailed fantasy world rife with high action, relentless suspense, and finely constructed battle scenes. The storyline, fraught with individual struggles, sinister conspiracies, political intrigue, and astonishing revelations keep the pages flying. Micciola’s prose is immersive as he explores his characters’ fears, inner turmoil, and personal trauma. The open ending climax will raise readers’ fervor for the next installment while solving several plot threads. Fans of sophisticated dark fantasy won’t want to miss this one.” — The Prairies Book Review
"Vengeance is the second book in Marc R. Micciola's Age of Shadows saga. In it, Einar has expanded the world he knew, but he remains true to his goal: to make Mistad safe for those who live there. The Black Light lurks in the shadows, threatening that safety. Otti has managed to bring her beloved Kemryr, the Master of Darkness himself, back. He thinks the world to be his, and he is sure that for it to thrive once more, he has to eliminate humanity. Einar and his new wife, Karina, will have to fight a battle they will likely lose. There is hardly any time to do everything they need to do, to gather all the allies they can. Peace is off. War is on.
Vengeance by Marc R. Micciola is an outstanding book. The plot is solid: it has the strength to keep the story moving while being full of emotion at every step. The author gives a fast-paced narrative in which description and action are perfectly balanced: it is the essence of "show, don't tell." The incredibly well-written transitions between scenes result in a story with no loose ends (except those Micciola will tie up in the next book, of course). Characters are realistic and three-dimensional: they have solid backgrounds, flaws, and weaknesses. The change in point of view gives enlightening insight into the plot. You have a complete picture of the story while exploring the minds of all the characters. Fantasy often finds itself entangled with other genres, such as romance, and Vengeance is not an exception: there are side stories that provide complexity to both the plot and the characters (without being tedious). If you enjoy epic fantasy, you should binge on this series: it has magic, mystical creatures, and a new world of opportunities to discover.” — Paula Garcia Lasa for Readers’ Favorite
“Vengeance is an incredible book and an excellent addition to the world Micciola has created. It is once agon captivating from beginning to end. The plot is intriguing, and it gets even more fascinating with each chapter.
The world in this novel expands and thanks to Micciola’s wonderful writing, the story never feels too overwhelming when the reader is learning about new elements of this world. This is not something all fantasy novels can achieve due to the nature of the genre, but Vengeance achieves it. The characters within this world are fascinating. They feel like real people because we learn about their flaws and weaknesses, not just they accomplishments. We get to see the good and the bad, and I love that. People are not perfect, and neither are the characters, and seeing those moments makes them more relatable even when the story takes place in a fantasy world.
If fantasy is a genre you enjoy reading, I highly recommend checking out the Age of Shadows saga. It is intriguing, full of action and there’s a bit of romance too. Even if fantasy is not a genre you enjoy, this is a series you shouldn’t miss. Marc R. Micciola has created a wonderful world, full of magic, mythical creatures, and amazing characters. I am glad I came across this series, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Marc R. Micciola’s work. I am also looking forward to revisiting this world in the near future, as it has captured my attention since book one.” — Evelyn Hadley for Reedsy Discovery