The Wizard's Testament

An Unexpected Challenge

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
301 Pages
Reviewed on 01/06/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

A lifelong explorer of life's experiences and unending surprises, Billy Ironcrane was raised in inner city Philadelphia during the 1950's and 60's. There he partook in the revolutionary currents of change, protest, activism, and idealism which characterized the era. While a teen, he spent summers on the Jersey coast hawking newspapers, tossing burgers and exploring places like Atlantic City where he encountered flea circuses, Gene Krupa hanging between sets at the Steel Pier, petrified mermaids and the fabulously wealthy promenading the boardwalk at night flashing mink stoles, diamonds, tuxes and studded canes. Atlantic City dubbed itself, “The World’s Playground.” All the stuff of dreams as he returned to Mrs. J’s boarding house where he slept for ten bucks a week, sharing space with his grandfather, Polish immigrants working the summer trade, and the ever present legion of cats.

He departed the inner city pushing blindly into the unknown never to return. To be static would have been terminal, as it proved to be for many of his mates. In the decades following, he pursued new awarenesses, trekked mountains, explored Zen, became a soldier, raised a family, bridged the corporate jungle, then lived on wits and ingenuity until the muse of the 60's again tapped his shoulder, ordering, "Time to shift gears, Billy."

His stories re-visit ancient times, extracting from their myths and legends new reckonings and insights into a modern world where many of the same challenges seem to have become our norm.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Wizard's Testament: An Unexpected Challenge is a work of fiction in the epic fantasy and adventure subgenres. It is intended for the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Billy Ironcrane. Taking its primary inspiration from Chinese mythology, folklore, and combat styles, this sprawling fantasy tale introduces us to a small band of central figures, through whose unique viewpoints we witness the tensions of major states at war and the collapse of an entire dynasty. But when a unique opportunity presents itself in the form of an archery contest, a spark of hope ignites as past and present coalesce to lead those brave enough to follow into a brighter future.

Author Billy Ironcrane has crafted a fantastic story of a war-torn nation and its unique fighters, one that will keep fantasy and action fans on the edge of their seats all the way through a truly epic reading experience. I really admired the pacing and timeline of events in the work, which seems disparate and slow-burning at first, but builds and combines in the most wonderful and unexpected ways as the intricate strands of the plot come together. I also thought that the combat and violent scenes were well-handled to create exciting imagery, but without ever going too far so that it became gratuitous. The story also inspired a deeper interest for me in real Chinese history and culture, which I think is always the mark of a well-researched story. Overall, I would definitely recommend The Wizard's Testament to any reader seeking a talented fantasy author to follow.

Pikasho Deka

The Wizard's Testament by Billy Ironcrane is a mythic fantasy novel set after the fall of the Han empire in ancient China. It follows the adventures of Bao Ling, a revolutionary and outlaw who vows to defend the weak and the helpless from the invaders. Accompanied by renowned poet Zhi Mei, Bao Ling undertakes a tumultuous journey to deliver a mysterious pouch to Abbot Shi-Hui Ke. Trained by Sying Hao, Bao Ling uses his expertise in martial arts to help those in need along the way. But after being rejected by the monks, he finds himself accompanied by a one-armed monk named Hui. However, Hui isn't who he says he is. As the group continues their journey, they stumble upon the Shu-Ting tribe, where Bao Ling joins an archery contest for the ages.

A sprawling adventure tale filled with magic and wonder, The Wizard's Testament hooks you in from the first page and refuses to let go until the end. Billy Ironcrane's enthralling adventure fantasy novel is soaked in mythology, drawing inspiration from Chinese martial arts and ancient Chinese folklore. The characters are larger-than-life, with distinct traits that make them pop out of the pages. Due to the adventure-driven aspect of the narrative, the book is divided into multiple parts, each relating a different story in Bao Ling's life. The archery contest was my favorite part of the book. I was glued to the pages during Bao Ling and Kong Kong competing against each other. If you're a fan of adventure stories inspired by Chinese folklore, I highly recommend The Wizard's Testament.

Vincent Dublado

The Wizard's Testament: An Unexpected Challenge by Billy Ironcrane is an epic oriental adventure fantasy that will take you into the colorful world of Chinese mythology, folklore, and martial arts. At the heart of this tale with a diverse cast of characters is Bao Ling, the Dragon of the Midlands, where most of the stories evolve. Bao Ling was raised in an agrarian community and chose to resist oppression in defense of the weak and the powerless. Under the tutelage of Sying Hao, the Man from Southern Mountain, Bao Ling honed his skills to the highest level and takes on the greatest archery challenge that requires shooting an arrow through the center of a coin and making use of the power of his Yin and Yang.

Billy Ironcrane magnificently writes a tale where heroes transcend time and space and stretch the limits of their physical bodies under the guiding notion of mind over matter. You can assume that Bao Ling is formidable, but that doesn’t mean that his adversaries and rivals are pushovers. Bao Ling is a well-explored hero, giving you a glimpse of his formation and the oppressive powers that he chooses to fight against. The story is a slow burn at first, but the tension and excitement build with every page so that it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Throw in the banter between Bao Ling and his opponents and you get an intelligent narrative that modern athletes can learn from. Ironcrane has written an adventure fantasy that transcends its origins and becomes unique in its presentation. The Wizard’s Testament is magnificent escapism that sets the bar high when it comes to myth and folktale-inspired stories.

Rabia Tanveer

The Wizard's Testament: An Unexpected Challenge by Billy Ironcrane is an epic fantasy heavily influenced by Chinese folklore and mythology. The story follows a host of characters as they go through their personal troubles and challenges while they have to survive a war that will bring down a whole dynasty. The war is devastating, and its effects are far-reaching. Hopeless and desperate, Bao Ling hopes to find a way to live a better life with a promising future. Luckily for him, an archery contest is announced, and that is exactly what Bao Ling needs to fight for his future and he fights as if it is his last chance to survive.

Characters like Bao Ling, Zhi Mei, and Kong Kong offer a perfect look into the Chinese culture of the past. Each character has a story to tell and a lesson to share. Bao Ling is all about resilience, perseverance, and determination; Zhi Mei shares gentle strength, positivity, and power whereas Kong Kong is all about aggression, testing limits, and fighting with all his might. All three of them (and the other characters) have a purpose in the plot, and author Billy Ironcrane makes sure that each of them fulfills it as the story ends. The chapters are not very long, but they are packed full of information and action for you to be captivated. The story has enough action to appease seasoned action thriller readers and enough elements of fantasy to keep niche fantasy readers engaged. The author does justice to Chinese history, the illustrations by Renee Knarreborg enhance the reading experience, and the overall feel of the story is entertaining. The Wizard’s Testament is the kind of novel that will turn into a Disney movie in the future. Entertaining and educational at the same time!