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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Ignatius and the Swords of Nostaw by D.A. Mucci is the first book in the Ignatius series. The Kingdom of Skye has a curse hanging over it and barren land where nothing grows. A prophecy haunts the current emperor's throne that could bring the kingdom back to its former glory but bringing it back to life will require uncovering the truth. Ignatius' strengths have always been rooted in clever comebacks and how effectively he could avoid a confrontation. When bullies challenge him to a fight, Iggy does the only logical thing and runs away. When he's saved from a Death Knight by a mysterious stranger, he's given the gift of two swords and is drawn into the Kingdom of Skye. He's spent his life running away from his problems, so he couldn't possibly be the hero that has been prophesied but as a threat emerges he learns just what he's capable of achieving.
The Kingdom of Skye is described as a place containing too much evil for anything to grow, which creates a vivid visual of the state of these lands. D.A. Mucci weaves in details that bring the kingdom to life and create a setting with a backstory as rich as the plot. This delivers the ideal background for Iggy's arc from the boy that runs away to the hero of the kingdom. The details that have gone into each setting are much appreciated and each peels back layers to Iggy and foreshadows his hero's journey. Mucci incorporates enjoyable and vivid descriptions of Iggy through other characters that describe him as a scared rabbit and as a witless child of no courage. The plot focuses on how he discovers his own bravery in the face of his fear and learns how to go against his instinct to run away.
The writing is fast-paced and never loses sight of the journey that Iggy is on which is woven from the various characters that he encounters throughout the kingdom. Among the most significant are Lecque and Raraesa who take him in and teach him how to blend in with society while serving as his protectors and as catalysts for him taking a chance at becoming a hero. His time in the kingdom and in Pennsylvania are mirrors of each other with him running away from confrontation in one world and challenging a curse in the other world. Ignatius and the Swords of Nostaw is an epic adventure ideal for young adults with a rich fantasy setting, a hero's journey, a self-discovery of courage, and action-packed moments.