James McStravick reviews The Buried Symbol by Jeffrey L. Kohanek.
Discover a lost magic, long buried and forgotten…
Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to an existence below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire’s ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire’s future leaders are trained.
As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.
Brock’s compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, becoming a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.
When I first started reading “The Buried Symbol”, I thought I was going to be reading a take on the Harry Potter trope, but as the book developed it became clear that the story would be unique.
I found the characterisation in “The Buried Symbol” intriguing and very enjoyable, as from the outset not only does it make you feel emotionally attached to some of the characters, but within a few chapters you are hooked and intrigued about the main character, Brock. At the beginning, Brock’s character seems like an everyday run of the mill person, but after an incident occurs his story unravels into something of darker and purposeful proportions that will always leave you wanting more. As the story goes on we are introduced to some characters that are lovable from the outset, and some not so much. It was nice to read a book for a change that gives you characters that have personalities you will clearly love or hate without complicating the matter too much. Also, without going into too much detail, I loved how Kohanek wasn’t afraid to give the story a darker twist, as I feel this made the book seem more grounded.
The world developed in and around those marked with a rune and those not was fantastic to read about as the author clearly shows a divides between them. I somewhat felt it was a nod towards society toward when people are marked for greatness from their birth due to the family they are born into, and what one person become if they set their mind to it. One thing I enjoyed especially about the story was the classes Brock and his classmates took at the academy as they were always so interesting to read about, especially the engineering and combat classes. This became all the more apparent when the author delved into how you progress in the school and how it fits into the classes taken by the students.
At the moment we don’t seem to have a clearly defined “bad guy”, which was a breath of fresh air, as usually within the first book we are introduced to a character that will clearly become the main focus of evil within the series. But Kohanek moved away from this trope, and I believe this is one of the aspects that made it all the more interesting, as it left the story open for what is to come in future books.
When I first started reading this book I was unsure as to how I was going to feel about it, but as the story progressed developed I became increasingly intrigued and found it an extremely enjoyable read. What I will say is that once you get a feel for this book and its world, you will always be left wanting more, as I constantly found myself trying to find time to read more as I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I hope as the books go on we delve more into the runes each characters has and possibly why they were marked, and why Brock’s is so significant.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I think it is a hidden gem amongst an array of great fantasy books. If you are lover of fantasy then I would highly recommend you read this book as you will not regret it. Kohanek is fantastic reading and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
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