Series Review: Tales from Verania by TJ Klune

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.38.38 pm“You can’t say your wish out loud. Not when you look up at the stars. If you do, it won’t come true. And I can’t… I can’t allow that to happen to you.”
He watched me. I watched him back.

I had only read two TJ Klune novels before I read Tales from Verania: Wolfsong and Ravensong. Those two novels, part of the same series, are incredibly dark novels, full of angst. At times, they are hard to read because there’s so few moments of lightness. But I still loved the books and wanted to read more from this author, who was fast becoming a favourite.

Then I stumbled upon Klune’s Tales from Verania series. I was intrigued. Then I found out that it’s a comedy book series. Then I was apprehensive. I don’t much like comedy novels because so often the books have a tendency to be awkward and just plain silly — not funny to me at all. I also get second-hand embarrassment very easily and comedy books bring out my second-hand embarrassment like nobody’s business.

But I had gotten recommendations for the Tales from Verania series from many Goodreads and blogging mutuals, so I thought I’d give the series a go.

I’m so happy I did.

Not only did I love every single book in this series, but Tales from Verania is now one of my favourite book series EVER. It’s right up there along with Captive Prince and The Mortal Instruments — and if you guys know me at all, you know how much I adore those two series. So by putting Tales from Verania on the same level as Captive Prince and The Mortal Instruments, you know I mean business.

Some spoilers for the Tales of Verania series follows.

Book 1:
The Lightning-Struck Heart

24468673Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.

Review:

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.38.38 pm“I don’t have time for all the relations and courting and wooing bullshit,” I said. “I’m a wizard. I have quests.”
“Uh, you’re an apprentice,” Gary said. “And you’re sent on errands.”

The first book in the Tales From Verania series starts off with a bang, with our hero, Sam, and his best friends, Tiggy the half-giant, and Gary the hornless gay unicorn, having been captured and being forced to listen to their captor monologue. So from the very first page, I was in tears from laughter. And it only gets better.

The humour is probably similar to History of the World Part 1 and other Monty Python films. The Lightning-Struck Heart really goes all out with the silly humour and while the other books are just as funny, its a more muted kind of humour because the sequels focus on the developing destiny arc. I would say that if you love Monty Python movies, you’re going to love this book!

Sam is absolutely adorable. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen so quickly for a main character than I did with Sam, especially when we learn his origin story. Sam is sweet and loving, so loyal to those he considers his friends and family. The best way to describe Sam would be he is awkward but cute about it too. He has this ability to draw people to him because he’s so open and honest. Which is why he has such a strong relationship with his friends. His friendship with Gary and Tiggy is sassy and so very funny, but also very endearing as you just know that all three of them would sacrifice themselves for the other if needed.

The Lightning-Struck Heart is a fantasy novel and a comedy novel, but that doesn’t detract from the story or the characters, which really are the heart of the novel. And the heart of the novel is the budding, slow-burn romance between Sam and the man he’s had a crush on since he was fifteen: Ryan Foxheart, the Knight Commander of the royal guard.

There were times I was almost on the floor, simultaneously screaming and dying at how oblivious these two fools are to their attraction. Whenever Sam encounters Ryan, he gives a little scream and runs away, while Ryan stops being able to use his brain whenever he’s around Sam. They’re the sweetest and I savoured each time they were on page together.

Do be warned that there are some moments that might make a reader uncomfortable. Some strange jokes that involve rape. Most of the humour is genuinely funny, but sometimes it can go a little bit far. Also, Sam’s mother comes from a tribe of people that are very much based on the real-life Romani people, and these people are referred to as g*psies through the whole novel (and the sequels where they play a larger part). Although, from my understanding, g*psy isn’t used as a racial slur in this novel — they are more a race of people who have a little affinity with magic. However, I cannot say whether or not this is offensive as I am not Romani myself, but I have only seen one other reviewer mention this, so I thought I would too.

This was such a great first book in a series: it’s funny, it’s silly, but it also has a lot of heart. You might even say … HaveHeart. hahaha. You’ll know what I mean when you read the book.

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Book 2:
A Destiny of Dragons

30370036Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.

Life is good.

Until it’s not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.

Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.

Review:

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.38.38 pm“Oh, Sam. Sam, Sam, Sam. You know nothing about dragons, do you? Wow. How the hell are we your destiny? You poor, poor sexy man-child. I feel bad for you. And slightly aroused. But mostly bad. And aroused.”

While A Destiny of Dragons is just as hilarious as it’s predecessor, The Lightning-Struck Heart, it is also much, much darker. It’s quite a big chance from book one — even TJ Klune himself admitted that The Lightning-Struck Heart was written as a fun, massively queer romp. But in A Destiny of Dragons, Sam has a fate that has been written in the stars, much to his chagrin.

A year after The Lightning-Struck Heart, Sam gets his happily ever after with Ryan: they’re super in love; and Sam spends his days training with Morgan while trying to befriend Crown Prince Justin. But then Sam’s grandmother, Vadoma, arrives in the capitol with Ruv — the man who is supposed to be Sam’s cornerstone (however, Sam already has a cornerstone in the form of Ryan, who is not at all impressed by this new guy), and tells Sam about his destiny: an evil force is growing and Sam is the only one strong enough to stop it. To do so, he must gather the five dragons of Verania and defeat this evil before it takes over the world. No pressure.

In this novel, Sam, Ryan, his best friends Tiggy the half giant, and Gary the gay hornless unicorn, along with Ruv, travel to the desert to find one of the famed dragons. The plot is quite fast-paced and revelations upon revelations are revealed about Sam’s destiny, which many people — including those he loves — have kept things hidden from him. The storyline is really addictive in this novel, and I ended up bingeing the book in just less than two days.

I have to mention how amazing I find it that Sam is the “top” in his and Ryan’s relationship. I love that Klune made this decision because so often with “top”/”bottom” relationships — I hate those terms but I’m using them so you know what I mean — it’s assumed that the younger and/or smaller of the couple is the “bottom”. I love that Klune is reevaluating what readers — ahem, cis female readers — assume about masculinity and queer men.

I have to mention Lady Tina DeSilva in this novel and how absolutely hilarious I find her’s and Sam’s beef. Both of them genuinely hate the other and it all started in book one, when Sam used to go to the Ryan Foxheart Fan Club meetings in disguise and get into tiffs with Lady DeSilvia, who used to be the club’s president. Lady DeSilvia is obsessed with Justin and Ryan — or, their ship name, Rystin — and when Ryan breaks up with Justin for Ryan, she is … less than pleased. Oh, and Lady DeSilvia happens to be a sixteen-year-old girl. But then she does get quite bitchy in this novel when she convinces a good portion of the city that Sam is an enemy to the people, claiming that he is working against the country, when really she is getting revenge against him for splitting up Rystin. I low-key love that girl.

There’s a new character in this novel, in the form of the desert dragon: Jekhipe. Or, as he prefers to be called, Zero Ravyn Moonfire — because, although he is 1,004 years old, he sleeps for 99 years and remains awake for only one year … so technically he’s only 14 years old. Sam has to find a way to win over Zero — and the other dragons in the following books — to join his cause and defeat this mysterious evil that is rising. Sam’s talks with Zero were lovely and so very like Sam: he was kind and sweet to Zero, who had never been treated with respect in his long but young life. Reading about Sam treating Zero so sweetly just made me love Sam’s character even more.

A Destiny of Dragons was an incredible sequel to an already amazing novel. I laughed just as much as I did in the first book, but the second novel really raised the stakes and kept me glued to my page, not just for the comedy, but for the suspense and action too.

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Book 3:
The Consumption of Magic

30370040Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.

It’s not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.

Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin’s true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.

With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits—the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tiggy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin—must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining dragons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.

A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.I

Review:

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.38.38 pm“And here I am, just a wizard, standing in front of some dragons, asking them to tolerate him.”

 

I am so glad I started reading this series when every book had been published, because imagine waiting a whole year for the fourth book when The Consumption of Magic ends on such an incredible and devastating cliffhanger?? I probably would have had a heart attack.

I think it was during my read of The Consumption of Magic that I started to realise the Tales From Verania series is probably my favourite fantasy series ever. Like A Destiny of DragonsThe Consumption of Magic is a suspenseful, action-filled book — but it is a far, far more emotional read. I was a tearful mess by the end of the novel, so be warned when you read this. It’s amazing but you’ll hate yourself — and TJ Klune for writing it.

The third book picks up pretty much after the conclusion of A Destiny of Dragons. We learn that the evil that has been rising is a man named Myrin, who has a connection to Sam through someone he loves, and he fought him and managed to survive. Just barely. Now Sam, who is still only an apprentice, must finish his magical studies with the famed wizard Randall, in order to be strong enough to defeat Myrin. He also still has three more dragons he needs to convince to join his cause.

Sam and Ryan are still just as loveable as they’ve been in the past two novels. Oh gosh, I don’t think I’ve loved a couple this much in the past year as I do Sam and Ryan. They’ve been together over a year at this point, and there’s been a few discussions about marriage which have made me — and Ryan himself — simultaneously squeal and freak the fuck out. They’re just so loving and I just want them to live happily ever after. But — if Sam does find a way to defeat the dark lord Myrin, he and Ryan still have to deal with one major issue: Sam’s immortality. As a wizard, Sam lives much, much longer than most humans do. Morgan, his mentor, is over 300 years old, and Randall is over 700. As Sam is the most powerful wizard in history, he will probably have even a longer life than Randall.

Perhaps the greatest part of this novel is the revelation of Myrin, Randall, and Morgan’s combined pasts. It’s such an incredible story, but a heartbreaking one too. Sam has so much to deal with, and I was so very worried for him.

Although it seems as though this book is super dark — and it is, especially at the end — it is still just as funny as the previous novels. One of my favourite scenes is Sam and Randall searching for the mated ice dragons. I won’t give away much but let me just say this to convince you to read this book: lesbian dragons.

The Consumption of Magic is the strongest book in the Tales from Verania series thus far. I cried a lot , I laughed a lot, and I fell in love with these characters even more than I already loved them.

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Book 4:
A Wish Upon the Stars

33640227Nearly a year ago, blinded by grief and betrayal, Sam of Wilds made a desperate decision to follow the Great White into the Dark Woods. Now, he emerges to a world changed.

The City of Lockes is a prison. The King has been locked away in the dungeons. The Kingdom of Verania has fallen, and the Dark wizard Myrin sits on the throne.

But soon after his return, Sam learns of a resistance fighting in his name led by a courageous knight, a defiant prince, a pissed-off unicorn, and a half-giant who wants to smash everything in sight. If he has any hope of defeating the villains who have taken their home, Sam must face the consequences of his choices—and the friends he left behind.

Review:

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.38.38 pm“Because it’s always been you, Sam. I promise. I promise. I promise, because when I look upon these stars, there is nothing I wish for more than you.”

I’ve always been a little hesitant to read the final book in any series, because I’ve been disappointed by conclusions before. But I wasn’t too worried for A Wish Upon the Stars because, if it’s anything like the amazing books that came before it, I would love it.

And I did.

A Wish Upon the Stars is the end to Sam’s marvellous story. It’s been a journey full of laughter — so, so, so much laughter — of tears, of joy, and of heartache. I absolutely adored every moment of reading this series — the whole seven days it took me to read it — and I want to know how I can go about bribing TJ Klune to write more books about Sam and Ryan and Gary and Tiggy forever.

When The Consumption of Magic ended, Sam had lost someone he loved very much and he had no choice but to follow the last dragon — the Great White — into the Dark Forest to conclude his training to become a full wizard. The Great White needs him for a whole year, but that means leaving everyone he loves behind — not to mention, he won’t get the chance to battle Myrin for an entire year which might give him the opportunity to take over.

But now Sam has returned to his former life to find things aren’t how he left them. Not only has Myrin conquered the City of Lockes and imprisoned the King, but Sam’s friends and loved ones — and even some enemies — have joined forces and are rebelling against the dark lord and are trying to defeat them. And they do so at … Camp HaveHeart — a camp named after Sam and Ryan’s ship name.

I don’t want to spoil too much about this final novel because it’s so freaking amazing. I will mention a couple of my favourite scenes with as little spoilers as possible, or spoilers that aren’t massive. My absolute favourite scene was Sam’s reunions with his friends, family and lover. I was both worried and excited to see Ryan’s reaction to Sam’s return, especially because Sam left without telling Ryan and it’s revealed that Ryan didn’t think Sam was coming back. My heart dies for them.

I was so surprised that Lady Tina DeSilva is part of Camp HaveHeart, but I loved her inclusion. Sam obviously doesn’t trust her after she has spent months turning the people of the city against him, but she has earned the trust of Ryan and Justin, the leaders of Camp HaveHeart. But my favourite part of her inclusion is her group of female warriors, the women who used to be part of the Ryan Foxheart Fan Club. Amazing.

We also have some previous storylines being concluded from other novels, including the mystery surrounding Gary’s missing unicorn horn. I have to admit I cried quite a bit when Gary related how he lost his horn in the first place, but his retrieval of it had me in tears of laughter. I also loved Sam’s interactions with his dragons, and how well they worked together. I loved them all together as a group.

The plot of A Wish Upon the Stars was incredible. Just incredible. And I don’t use that word lightly. Klune juggled so much in this final book and he gives every scene and storyline its proper page time. The final battle between Sam and Myrin was epic and I was perched on the very edge of my seat. But even better than that is Sam’s happily ever after. He and Ryan really are so perfect for one another and they’re officially one of my favourite romantic couples ever.

A Wish Upon the Stars was a wild ride of a novel. Every part of this book was perfection. Utter perfection. I will miss these characters and this world so damn much, and I had only read the books in the space of a week. I can’t imagine the people who had to wait a year between each book. They’re superheroes. But, good news!! Crown Prince Justin will be getting his own book series featuring a love interest who is his betrothed from another country that he’s never met before. I can’t wait for Justin’s book. It’s going to be amazing.

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Have you read Tales From Verania? Or any other TJ Klune novel? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Let me know!

 

5 thoughts on “Series Review: Tales from Verania by TJ Klune

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