The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

Title: The Ranger of Marzanna.
Series: The Goddess War #1.
Writer(s): Jon Skovron.
Publisher: Orbit.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: April 21st, 2020.
Pages: 528.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13:  9780316454629.
My Overall Rating: ★☆☆☆☆.


Siblings can be a pain. Whether it’s the inability of the youngest ones to understand the lessons passed down by their elders or the refusal of the oldest ones to allow their little brothers and sisters a chance to forge their own identity through trial and error, there’s nothing easy in this bond tied by blood. While some continue to love each other despite the omnipresent hate, others let go and move on without second thoughts. Having debuted his adult fantasy career with his Empire of Storms trilogy, once-actor now-author Jon Skovron looks to deepen this relationship through a brand-new fantasy trilogy with Poland/Russian influence.

What is The Ranger of Marzanna about? Following the murder of their father by imperial soldiers, Sebastian Turgenev Portinari, a teenager with gifted elemental powers, is recruited by the Aureumian Empire, the very faction that killed his faster, to become a valuable asset in an upcoming war against the Uaine Empire who known for their army of the dead. His sister Sonya Turgenev Portinari, however, has other plans for his brother’s betrayal as she channels her training as a Ranger of Marzanna to join the opposition in their plans to invade Izmoroz and take down the nobility that now hosts the remainder of her family. As they each go through their respective forms of training, a war putting them both up against each other is inevitable as their personae refuse to allow each other a life free of tragedy.


Falling flat in its attempt to deliver a refreshing fantasy adventure, author Jon Skovron presents a perfect example of too much telling and very little showing through characters who are less than comprehensible in their actions, thoughts, and dialog. Flawed beyond understanding, both protagonists revel in despicable personalities as they mercilessly progress through this story with firm conviction in their beliefs. With almost little sensitivity to any themes explored, whether it’s love or power, author Jon Skovron rushes through each of their development, blatantly skipping over their characterization, with no regard to the reader’s attachment to his characters.

Spelling everything out without allowing any form of interpretation from the reader, he quickly dismisses any desire to get us invested in his characters, his world or his story. It doesn’t help when the absence of style in writing is also not only frustrating but gives this novel the impression of being a pitiful parody of military fantasy. Forget about a clever strategic approach to warfare, this novel pretends to understand the subgenre and cluelessly incorporates a couple of violent and gory sequences with incredible insensitivity. Top it off with a poorly developed magic lore limited to certain characters (whether it’s the Lady Marzanna culture or the elemental magic system), the whole story consumes itself in its flaws, unable to step out of the flames it ignites along the way.

The plot’s pacing also denotes awkward progression that invites unfathomable inconsistencies. Imagine a 16-year-old child with potential wizardry skills progressing through army ranks faster than you can count to sixteen while also pretending to be an adult. The story ultimately feels like an immature battle of siblings who happen to have everything go their way, thus presenting us with a war between factions that, at first, seemed to hold much more gravity than what is delivered in the end. While there are a few decent ideas introduced in the first book of The Goddess War—although they are hastily skimmed overthey didn’t succeed in standing out enough to save this tale.

The Ranger of Marzanna is a hinderingly dull fantasy story revolving around foolish siblings as rivals preparing a lackluster war between the Aureumian and Uaine Empires.


Thank you Orbit for this advance review copy!



40 thoughts on “The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

  1. Wow. I commend you on such honesty, though I am saddened to hear it. This is one of my most anticipated novels…it sounded like such a powerful and perfect idea and I love those eastern influences. However, I regard your opinion very highly and although I have already pre-ordered this title, I feel cautious. It’s happened often enough that hyped books don’t hold up for me, but it’s a matter of taste.
    I hope I will like it…but it sounds so flawed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, I’m quite sorry to be the bearer of bad news for this one, Scarlett! I was, myself, really excited at the idea of plunging into this one but what I got was below any expectations I could have for any book, unfortunately. I do really hope that you’ll have a much better time with it when you get your hands on it, Scarlett. I’ll be very curious to hear what you’ll think of it when you get around to reading it!


  2. Hahahahaaa. Now THIS is the kind of review I can believe in. I am glad to see you can write a 1star review with no regrets or shilly shallying.

    I am sorry that you had to waste your time, as 500+ pages isn’t something you toss off in one afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The reviews for this have been all over the place, it seems! Most of them do seem to fall in the 3 stars and under though, sadly. Such a shame too because I was really curious about this one, but I suspect I would have many of the same issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I, honestly, didn’t think that many people would be reading this one around its release but I do hope that there will be some who will enjoy this much more than I did. I think a much younger audience will be able to overlook its flaws… Especially people who aren’t used to adult fantasy novels…


  4. I’ve seen a four star review for this, a couple of three stars too and then most are negative but damn dude, one star!😮😂 It sounds awful! Really glad I didn’t accept a copy as not going to lie, the cover is stunning and caught my eye but something kept me from agreeing to a copy, so glad that I did.

    High praise for even finishing the book.👍📚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeh, no… With the kind of fantasy stories we’re both used to, I think even you would have had loads of issues with this one… 😂

      I was surprised as well. I actually thought of DNF before the epilogue. I don’t know what masochistic spirit took over me but I seemed to prefer to finish this rather than stop earlier hahaha Thanks for reading, Drew. I appreciate it. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. *OUCH*
    There is nothing worse than starting a book with certain expectations and then witnessing their destructions at every page turn… 😦
    It’s a great pity, because the concept of two siblings on opposite sides of a conflict could have delivered a great story, but probably it did not fall in the right hands and could not be developed as it deserved.
    Thanks for sharing and… better luck with the next book!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Worse part is that I didn’t even have expectations. I went into this one with barely any knowledge of what I was getting myself into hahah

      Despite the interesting idea of siblings on opposite sides, this really failed to find its groove for me. I do hope, for those who will read this and its sequel, that they’ll find stuff they’ll enjoy in this trilogy.

      Thanks for reading, Maddalena! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A shame that this one wasn’t a better read for you but a great review. I’ve read some other negative reviews of this one so far and a couple of positives, it seems to be a book people either love or dislike. Or maybe I’ve just missed all the middle of the road reviews. As I said, great review thou.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The book cover looks so stunning it makes me even more frustrated about how this book turned out. There is nothing more frustrating than a book with so much potential just fall into a poorly executed fantasy. Will definitely be giving this one a pass!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is always sad to see a pretty book with an interesting premise delivers such a poor performance in the end. I really didn’t expect it to leave such an impression on me either. Hopefully, I’ll appreciate his other books if I ever give them a try in the future. Thanks for reading, Lois! 😀


  8. Well, I’m sorry to hear how little you enjoyed this. But on a positive note, you just saved me a bunch of time! 🙂 It’s too bad, this is a book I was very curious about. Not that I don’t mind sometimes trying things others hate, but right now there are just too many other books I’m more likely to enjoy. Maybe one day I’ll take a look back at this post and give it a try. Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha that is partly why I’m out here sharing my thoughts on the things I consume! 😉

      I completely understand and am with you there. There’s at least 100 amazing SFF books waiting on my bookshelves to be read and we all need to know what the bad ones so we can get to the good ones sooner rather than later! 😀

      Thank you so much for reading, Todd! 🙂


  9. Yeah, 1 star review for a novel! That’s a first, if I’m not mistaken. You trashed this book really good, Lashaan! 😀 I guess you kept reading just to be able to crush it so completely afterwards, huh? 😂
    On a more serious note, I’m really sorry it was such a brain-death experience. It makes me wonder about the state of publishing industry – after all, someone must’ve accepted and edited this at Orbit. Well, I’ve just had my first 1 star review as well, anyway 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is indeed the first 1 star I’m giving to a BOOK on this blog. I’m glad it’s not frequent at all though hahaha And you’re right! Like I’ve mentioned before in my Art of Abandoning Books post, I just need to read the whole thing to fully destroy it afterwards hahaha

      Looking forward to your review of The Poppy War! It sounds like it’s going to be a really insightful and personal review. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah, the review for The Poppy War is already on the blog, the first and hopefully last 1 out of 10 stars for me. 😫

        I’m unfortunately the same when it comes to abandoning books; I DNF’d maybe a handful of books over the years, valiantly pushing through with all the rest, and there were some few unbelievable flops – curiously, since the beginning of our blog, I read and destroy less of the really bad ones, because I tend to be more picky before I actually commit to reading! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Ha damn Lashaan!!! The cover was sopromisisng (yes I am shallowbut I own it LOL). Now,too much telling always kills a book! And if you add despicable characaters honestly you have my admirarion for reading it through! I would have DNF!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Haha reading this gave me whiplash! When you set up the plot I was getting quite excited (I love stories about warring siblings) and then… well, you let us know it was terrible. I felt your frustration with this one. I think maybe the most annoying thing to happen in a book is when the character’s actions just don’t make any sort of sense. I’m not saying I think characters should always make the the decision (I much prefer it when they don’t hehe), but they at least need to have an evolution you can understand otherwise you feel totally cut off from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I rarely want to say too much of my own thoughts when quickly summarizing the plot (sometimes I can’t help it though and the plot is impossible to summarize so you can already foretell my hate) hahaha And you’re right about character behaviour that can be understood both in the rightness and wrongness. Otherwise, if it’s just frustrating all the time for no good reason, I’d pass… Thanks for reading, Lydia! 🙂


  12. Oh my, I don’t think I’ve ever read such a negative review from you Lashaan 😂 When reading your points it actually reminded me of the feeling of dread and annoyance that gave me the only (?) book I was never able to finish hahaha! However, you still managed to write a summary that got me really curious, so good job for that 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh dear. Just 1 star. I’m always surprised when I see you give a low rating on here. It sucks that this one fell flat. I’ve seen reviews of it floating around but yours was the first I checked out. Doesn’t sound like one I’d like. I’m not much into military fantasy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. I wanted to go with 2 stars, but as I was writing, I couldn’t justify the 2 stars and have to accept that this was going to be my favourite 1-star review on the blog hahaha You know, I’m actually surprised that this 1-star review didn’t have you running to get a copy like that Frank Miller graphic novel back then hahaha 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol! Lol! Yo! I thought of that Xerxes graphic novel while I was writing my last comment. I still need to read it. I might do so soon. I rediscovered my Comixology account and have been on a comic book binge so far this weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

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