Scribes by James Wolanyk @JPWolanyk @KensingtonBooks #bookreview #fantasy

Title: Scribes

Author: James Wolanyk

Publisher: Rebel Base Books

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Page Count: 306

My rating:  3 stars

About the book:

Pawns in an endless war, scribes are feared and worshipped, valued and exploited, prized and hunted. But there is only one whose powers can determine the fate of the world . . .

Born into the ruins of Rzolka’s brutal civil unrest, Anna has never known peace. Here, in her remote village—a wasteland smoldering in the shadows of outlying foreign armies—being imbued with the magic of the scribes has made her future all the more uncertain.

Through intricate carvings of the flesh, scribes can grant temporary invulnerability against enemies to those seeking protection. In an embattled world where child scribes are sold and traded to corrupt leaders, Anna is invaluable. Her scars never fade. The immunity she grants lasts forever.

Taken to a desert metropolis, Anna is promised a life of reverence, wealth, and fame—in exchange for her gifts. She believes she is helping to restore her homeland, creating gods and kings for an immortal army—until she witnesses the hordes slaughtering without reproach, sacking cities, and threatening everything she holds dear. Now, with the help of an enigmatic assassin, Anna must reclaim the power of her scars—before she becomes the unwitting architect of an apocalyptic war.


Scribes by James Wolanyk is the first book of the new fantasy Scribe Cycle series. The series introduces Anna who had been hiding her ability of being a Scribe and being able to carve runes into others flesh to grant temporary invulnerability against enemies.

When Anna was forced to run she finds herself trapped by a tracker and as negotiations begin to decline Anna uses her ability to bargain. This puts Anna at the trackers mercy at which time Anna vows to use her ability to help fight to restore her homeland.

I have to first admit the idea of carving runes into someone immediately had me thinking of the Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare in which they tattoo protection upon each other. This story however is pretty far away from that book in the type of fantasy that is contained within. The opening chapter quickly showed the reader just how dark and disturbing Anna’s world could be.

Now while I did find this book to be an entertaining fantasy for the most part there were a couple of things that I noticed while reading that lowered my rating a bit. First, the style of the writing in the book is one that can be a bit on the overly descriptive/wordy side for my taste which does make parts drag to me. But I also thought to myself a few times that the story seemed a little jumpy getting from one scene to the next. Overall though it was a pretty intense darker fantasy for the adult readers.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Find this book online: 

Goodreads  /   Amazon

About the author:

James Wolanyk is the author of the Scribe Cycle and a teacher from Boston. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts, where his writing has appeared in its quarterly publication and The Electric Pulp.

After studying fiction, he pursued educational work in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, and Latvia. Outside of writing, he enjoys history, philosophy, and boxing. His post-apocalyptic novel, Grid, was released in 2015. He currently resides in Riga, Latvia as an English teacher.

Visit him online at



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