Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Review: In the Land of Magnanthia by B.R. Maul

Paperback and eBook
478 pages
March 25, 2014

When a portal to another world cracks open just outside the small town of Riverside, it sets off a series of events forever changing the lives of two boys; one boy is chosen to lead a world to peace while the other one is chosen to tear it apart.

Simon Whittaker lives an ordinary teenage life. That is until the most powerful ring in the land of Magnanthia chooses him to become its guardian. Overnight, Simon has had to flee from something trying to kill him, seen magical spells he had only read about in stories, and stepped into the most majestic world ever imagined.

Swept away to the fantastic world that’s in the midst of a brutal war, Simon must place his life in the hands of four unlikely travelers, a swordsman, ranger, cleric, and wizard, sent to lead him down the right path.

While King Elderten has ordered death to Magnanthia’s nine guardians, the group he believes is responsible for the kingdom’s devastation, Simon remains the only hope for those who believe the guardians are innocent.

Meanwhile, Jak Jakobsin has been pulled through a portal by two of Bedlam’s undead scouts. Bedlam’s overlord plans to use Jak, along with his army of undead, goblins, and trolls, to build a force so powerful that Magnanthia will be his forever.

“Portals, Passages & Pathways” is a story of our greatest journey, to discover our purpose in this life, and the consequences of the choices we make to get there. “In the Land of Magnanthia” is the first novel in the series and is complete just under 115,000 words. It’s told from the alternating viewpoints of Jak and Simon.


Marissa Curnutte



Writer B.R. Maul ready to release part one of ‘Portals, Passages & Pathways’

FARGO, N.D. – Good stands up against evil in B.R. Maul’s debut release, “Portals, Passages & Pathways Part 1: In the Land of Magnanthia” (March 25).

In the first installment of a new fantasy series, Maul whisks readers away to the unforgettable world of Magnanthia. The mystical kingdom is in the middle of a devastating war with a rising undead army from Bedlam. The lives of two teenage boys – Simon and Jak – are changed forever as their worlds clash in a deadly battle of epic proportions. Shedding blood, sweat and tears, both sides fearlessly defend their empires, but who will prevail?
With acute attention to detail, Maul writes with vigor and finesse, spinning a fantastic web of characters, allegories and thrilling escapades.

“There is also much to be said about the fantasy realm where Magnanthia is located,” Maul says. “The realm holds true to the traditional sense of fantasy worlds, and there are some fun and exciting new creatures and magical items.”

In fact, the “Portals, Passages & Pathways” series echoes “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter,” Maul says.

“This story has something for everybody,” he explains.

Maul is hard at work on the follow-up to part one of “Portals, Passages & Pathways.” He lives in Fargo, N.D.

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What readers are saying

Amazon.com Reviews

“Very good book. It was quite a fun read, especially for his first book. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next!”

“This book keeps you thinking until the end and even at the end you are left wondering how the next part will play out. You don't know who is deceiving who, who can be trusted, will the company stay together, will the guardian accept his destiny, and what does the journey ahead entail. I will be looking forward to the next book coming out!”

“He has created familiar characters that I ‘recognize’ from my own life. He also uses a rich vocabulary, which gives his book depth.”

“I found the book a very fun read, and found myself staying up a little too late some nights to get in one more chapter before lights out. That to me is the sign of a good book.”

“Maul's imagination and ability to paint a picture of our own childhoods makes it so that anyone reading this book will be able to identify with one of the characters. The story was strong, the content clean, and the writing style easy. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and look forward to the next in this series.”


This book was an exciting mash up of all my best loved fantasy novels. It had mystery, magic and mayhem; plenty of adventure and enough action to keep me glued to my Kindle.

I will admit that it took me a while to get into this book, but once I was fully immersed in the story nothing could draw me away. Maul painted a vivid picture of beautiful landscapes and a magical world that I could easily live in, even with the evil that lurked.

In the beginning a was a little distracted by the constant shift between present and past, and even though I understood what Maul was trying to show me with the flashbacks, I felt they could have been eased into the story in a different way. It was only really when Jak and Simon found themselves in Magnanthia that I started to enjoy the story and all the chaos that ensued.

I love that this book was dual POV. It gave me the chance to see into the mind of both the hero and the villain. And it was quite unique in the way that it allowed the reader to connect with the villain in a way I've never seen before. Most of the time, the hero is the MC and at some point in the story the villain is introduced. The reader never really gets to see how the villain got to be evil etc. and Maul gave his readers this insight. It gave the villain more heart and actually made me want to reach out to him. 

I have to say that I enjoyed Jak's story more than Simon's. Perhaps it was because he seemed to have the harder choices, and he was led down a path that meant life as a Warlock, fighting for the wrong side, or death. Or perhaps it was the frightening creatures he had to face; that made my skin crawl. I just felt more for him than I did for Simon.

This book was a fantastic start to what is sure to be a thrilling series. I look forward to reading more, and finding out how Jak and Simon will navigate their new lives. Readers of the Harry Potter franchise and similar reads will love this book.

A fan of fantasy fiction since he was a child, B.R. Maul has always enjoyed a good story, whether it came in the form of books or role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.

Maul has lived in the heart of the Red River Valley for most of his life. He was born in Fargo, N.D. in 1974. A house fire changed his family’s course when he was a child, and in the early ‘80s, his parents took over a small family business in Moorhead, MN, where he remained for his school years.

Maul holds an undergraduate degree in secondary English education with an emphasis in creative writing. He spent a few years working as a substitute teacher, and since fall 2013, he has dedicated all of his time to writing.

Maul’s first novel, “Portals, Passages & Pathways Part 1: In the Land of Magnanthia” debuts March 25. The book is the first installment in a fantasy series.

Maul lives in Fargo with his wife and two kids. The couple is expecting their third child in March.

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