December 8, 2023
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Book Reviews Fantasy

The Heir of Naldukar by L. J. Ussery: An interesting start to a fantasy epic

Author: L. J. Ussery

Genre: Fantasy

Year Published: 2023

Nerdection Rating:

“Nerdection Worth to Read”

In a world saturatеd with rеpеtitivе modеrn-day fantasy, “Thе Hеir of Naldukar” еmеrgеs as a brеath of frеsh air. Follow Michaеl Brandon, a young man dеaling with loss and an unеxpеctеd dеstiny as thе hеir to a long-lost kingdom. L.J. Ussеry rеvitalizеs classic fantasy tropеs, making thеm еngaging and еxciting. Michaеl’s rеlatablе insеcurity as a protagonist adds dеpth, and thе journеy through a vibrant world kееps rеadеrs еnthrallеd. This is a promising start to a fantasy sеriеs that rеspеcts tradition whilе offеring a uniquе twist.

Spoiler-free Plot

Michael Brandon is a young man who has recently lost his parents and now he is dealing with an even bigger adversity: a group of assassins who want to take his fist for reasons he doesn’t fully understand. It turns out that he is the heir to the throne of Naldukar, a kingdom that has been without a ruler for decades and is filled with chaos, which kick-starts Michael’s adventure as he is aided by friends he meets along the way.

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My take on The Heir of Naldukar

The thing a lot of people mention regarding modern-day fantasy is that is too repetitive. That everything has been done, that is the same castles, dwarves, elves, and whatnot. That the princesses are always the same archetype or that there are always kingdoms fighting. You get the gist of it.

However, there is an even more important question regarding this topic: How was the execution? A lot of fans and critics don’t focus on that. The old saying that everything has been done is pretty much true, but there is also the element that classic tropes are classic because they work. The story of the knight saving the princess or slaying the dragon and the kingdoms with elves and dwarves has an appeal that is everlasting, which is something that this book seems to understand.

L. J. Ussery crafted a story that seems fairly similar to stuff that came before but he does it in a way that is entertaining and very fun to read. For example, the premise of the book could hold some similarities to Percy Jackson but then Ussery makes some twists and turns to make it his own thing, which is something that deserves a lot of praise.

Michael is a compelling protagonist because he starts very insecure and unsure of what to do. A lot of people often want main characters in these situations to have full control of what is happening and be proactive, but this is a realistic take: Michael is a teenager, has recently lost his parents, and has to deal with the realization that he is the heir to an entire fantasy-style kingdom, with lots of people trying to kill him. The fact he has doubts makes a lot of sense.

There is also the appeal of the journey, which is ever-present in fantasy fiction and Ussery does a good job of making the world feel alive and exciting. The classic use of having the main character not understanding the world around him and discovering and learning along with the audience is a very good tactic and approach that always works in fiction.

This is the first book of The Heir of Naldukar, so naturally not every single plot point is resolved and the focus is mainly on establishing the setting, the status quo, and the quest. The touch of politics and the challenges Michael faces as the story progresses are quite interesting, especially because the reader has this question: “How is he going to rule this kingdom?” There is an element of irony to this concept that is quite fun and the author makes great use of it.

Fantasy is a literary genre that is always growing and there are more and more people trying to do their own take on it. That’s great and the most important part in these situations is that is done well. In this case, The Heir of Naldukar shows an author who understands the classic tropes of fantasy storytelling and focuses on doing them well instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, which is always nice to see.

“In The Heir of Naldukar, classic fantasy themes find new resonance, reminding us that the heart of the genre still beats with captivating, ageless tales.”

About The Author Of The Heir of Naldukar

L. J. Ussery grew up in the Midwest, watching superhero’s where the battle of good versus evil played out on an epic scale. In high school he read books like C. S. Lewis’s Narnia, Madeline Le’Engle’s Time series, and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Hunting and fishing in the woods with his father reminded him of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

By the time he reached college he was hooked on the science fiction and fantasy and founded a local community for the purpose of re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat and culture. He picked up the nicknames Elrod and Owlguard. After obtaining a BS in Accounting and passing the Certified Public Accounting test, he left school and began his professional career.

As he neared retirement, L. J. Ussery read David Eddings, The Belgariad and The Malloreon. They are both five-book series that flamed the fires of his youth and encouraged him to draft the, Priestess of the Mountain City, a five-book series. With the aid of the Houston Writers Guild and NW Oklahoma City’s Creative Quills, he completed the first book The Heir of Naldukar and published it in 2023.

At his core, he claims to be a romantic. His story style follows the hero’s journey and the coming-of-age architecture. He writes stories that are encouraging, uplifting and leave the reader feeling good about how the story ended.

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