Benjamin Ashwood by AC Cobble

In the company of mysterious swordsmen and magic-users, a young man travels to the big city… to set up a brewery.

Young Benjamin is your typical orphan in a small farming town. When a party of mysterious strangers passes through and take his sister (by adoption) away with them, he naturally tags along on the journey to the big city. There, his sister is a pupil at the all-female magic school. Benjamin starts brewing beer for a living, which is going well until he gets involved in politics of the dangerous kind.

The set up of this story is reminiscent of Wheel of Time, though thankfully not as turgid. Benjamin doesn’t seem to have magical talent (so far) and while he does learn sword-fighting, he isn’t transformed overnight into an improbable killing machine. And it’s refreshing that on arrival in the big city, he sets up an actual business instead of, say, joining the army.

This is a very readable, engaging fantasy adventure, decently written and well edited with few errors. It’s the start of a trilogy, all three books available in KU. The ending of this first book is rather dangling: essentially we’ve got to the point where Benjamin and his friends are in trouble and the real story starts. But even with that, it’s an enjoyable enough read.

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