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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Kraken Rider Z by Dyrk Ashton & David Z Estes (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order Kraken Rider Z over HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Dyrk Ashton is a writer, educator, filmmaker and former actor active in storytelling and media making. Born and raised in the Ohio, he spent his formative years in the American Midwest wherein he got a BFA, Masters & PhD in the field of filmmaking & Movie studies. Dyrk loves the outdoors and even more the genre of speculative fiction. He currently resides in Ohio, but the fantasy landscape is the place he calls his true home. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: If there's one thing dragons fear, it's a kraken.

Even lowly hull-scrubber Zee Tarrow knows that. Like everyone on the island kingdom of Tosh, he grew up frightened by fables and horrible tales of the great beasts of the deep. It seems an odd thing to impress upon the children of the realm, because--luckily for the dragons and their riders--no one has seen a kraken in a thousand years.

Then again, Tosh's lifeblood is the sea. Royal Dragon Knights guard the king's ships from the constant threat of pirates, hostile empires, and the monstrous horrors that dwell beneath the waves. It makes sense that the people would fear krakens, even after generations of Knights graduate and take flight from the ramparts of Triumf's Citadel, the country's most elite--and therefore also exclusive--military academy. A school that Zee, who has barely ever had more than two copper pennies to rub together, should have no chance of getting into.

Thing is... Zee has a secret. He's not only seen a kraken...

He saved its life.

When that truth gets out, will Zee be hunted by the Dragon Knights he has always envied and admired, or will he become the first Kraken Rider in history?

FORMAT/INFO: Kraken Rider Z is 682 pages long divided into four parts which are further divvied up into sixty numbered chapters with a prologue & epilogue. There’s also an acknowledgement section along with a few other extras. Kraken Rider Z is the first book in a  an unnamed trilogy and can be read as a standalone.

November 14 2023 marked the e-book and audiobook publication of Kraken Rider Z and it was published by Wraithmarked Creative. Cover art is by Daniel Kamruddin & cover design is by Shawn T. King.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Kraken Rider Z is an story that began as a joke and thanks to the genius talents of Dyrk Ashton and David Z. Estes, actually culminated in a story that’s even more fantastical than Dyrk’s debut trilogy. The story as we know is about a Kraken and the boy who finds himself as its rider. But boy there’s a ton of lot more surprises within this story.

The story begins with a young 8-year old child named Zee Tarrow who is happily playing with his pig, his life changes when he chances upon a strange baby creature. This is a far remote corner of the island of Tosh and Zee doesn’t quite know what to call his new found pet. Calling it Jessup, he soon finds that it is a near mythical beast called a Kraken, thus begins the crazy journey that is Kraken Rider Z.

Dyrk Ashton sure knows how to concoct a story unlike most others in the fantasy genre and it was very evident with his debut trilogy and it is evident again with this new series, mixing epic fantasy with nautical action and a whole bunch of amazing characters, this story is bound to drawn you in and then keep you hooked with bond between Jessup and Zee. There’s not only this fantastic bond but also a rich world that’s nautical in origin and the authors make sure to envelop every aspect of this story with the water aspect. From the way what food is consumed to the resources that they have. Plus this story is a fascinating mix of epic fantasy along with progression fantasy, we also get a solid military school angle and to add to that there’s Dragons and a singular Kraken. Such a mix can be a tad jarring but its kudos to messrs Ashton & Estes, the sub-genre aspects fit in smoothly with each other as well as the tropes.

The story is rich in its characterization beginning with Zee and Jessup, their bond is the key to this story and it is indeed a rich one. In Zee Tarrow, we get a character who’s heroic and kind as they come. We get to see him from a young age and throughout certain traumatic events, we get to see him blossom into an adolescent who’s wise an stronger beyond his age. Then there’s Jessup the Kraken, who is a hoot and equally scary when he wants to be. They power the story and not only that, the rich characterization extends to character cast, there’s a bunch of folks from the indie fantasy community who will find themselves immortalized within these pages from authors such Michael R. Fletcher, Phil Tucker, Rob J Hayes, M.L. Spenser, etc to bloggers such as Petrik, and various other folks from the community. It was fun for me to see all the named folks and I hope it will be the same for all the readers too.

The action sequences within the story are top notch and we get a solid mix of under water and above the water ones. The magic system is also one wherein there’s a lot more cool stuff happening be it with the dragons or with the way magic is mined within the story. This aspect of the story ties into the progression aspect of fantasy and for readers more familiar with the genre might find it to their liking. Overall this story has so many cool facets from its magic system to the comedy, to the action to the characters. There’s something for everyone and that’s something really hard to achieve.

CONCLUSION: Epic AF and funny as hell. Ashton and Estes have created a story that's bursting with action and lively banter, as well as imbued with the incredible strength of a unique found-family bond. This is a truly a ‘kraken’ read.


Anonymous said...

I would say that this book is really interesting to me because of your mention of the characterization of the main cast pretty early, which is the biggest thing I look for when reading a book.


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