Joseph Malik's Dragon's Trail was published by Oxblood Books in 2016/2017.

Information about Joseph Malik:

Joseph Malik writes and lectures on advanced intelligence theory and asymmetric warfare for the U.S. military. He has worked as a stuntman, a high-rise window washer, a computational linguist, a touring rock musician, and a soldier in the United States Special Operations Command. A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he lives in the Pacific Northwest along with his wife and their two dogs.

Dragon’s Trail is his first novel. A sequel, The New Magic, is scheduled for 2018.

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about Dragon's Trail:

"I didn't come here to sell my soul. I came here to buy it back."

Once dubbed "The Deadliest Man Alive," Jarrod Torrealday is a former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert banned from competition for killing another fencer in a duel. Despondent, volatile, alcoholic, yet still one of the greatest swordsmen alive, he now works for third-rate fantasy films as a technical consultant and stuntman.

When Jarrod accepts the gig of a lifetime from a sorcerer looking for a hero, he finds himself facing an invading army in a world inhabited by creatures from Earth's mythical past. He soon learns that the enemy mastermind is also from Earth, and has laid the foundations for a new kind of war.

Seamlessly blending hard science with elements of classic sword and sorcery, Dragon's Trail is an international bestseller that's being hailed as the pioneering work of a new genre: the Fantasy Technothriller.

A REVIEW OF JOSEPH MALIK'S DRAGON'S TRAIL

Joseph Malik's debut novel, Dragon's Trail, is the first novel of The Outworlders fantasy series. It's a captivating independently published novel that takes readers on an exciting journey into another world.

When I began to read this novel, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it, because Joseph Malik was an unknown debut author to me, but I soon found myself enjoying what I was reading. In my opinion, this novel is surprisingly compelling, because it's refreshingly different from other stories that tell of people who travel to fantasy worlds and become heroes.

Dragon's Trail is a combination of different elements ranging from epic fantasy and science fiction to sword and sorcery. It can be classified as hard and realistic portal fantasy, because it features gritty realism. I think it's good to point out that this novel is not children's fantasy fiction, because it has adult language, adult situations and depictions of violence that are suitable only for mature readers.

Dragon's Trail tells of Jarrod Torrealday who is taken to another world by a sorcerer called Crius Lotavaugus. The wizard has also taken Carter Sorenson there. At first Jarrod doesn't believe what he hears from Carter and thinks that they're in a reality show, but then he realises that everything about their situation is true. Carter tells Jarrod that a war is about to begin in the world and there are people who need both of them to participate in it. Soon Jarrod meets Crius and learns that he has to counter a threat caused by another Earthling who is a great sorcerer.

The story gradually grows from this interesting premise to an enjoyable tale of action, politics, magic and war.

Jarrod Torrealday and Ulo Sabbaghian are intriguing characters. Joseph Malik has created both of them well and writes realistically about their lives, because he fluently advances the story by writing about their deeds and tells of what happens to them. Jarrod was once dubbed "The Deadliest Man Alive", but his life has changed. Although he now has a bit different kind of life, he's still a great and talented swordsman. He has his own strengths and weaknesses that manifest themselves in his character as he prepares himself for war. Ulo Sabbaghian is a powerful sorcerer who was banished to Earth before birth. His father's magic runs strong in his veins. He has used his gift and abilities to achieve many things, including power and stature, after returning to his original homeland.

One of the best things about this novel is that the author has paid attention to several details and has researched many things. His attention to details throughout the story is remarkable. The fight scenes are exceptionally good and detailed. I admit that I'm not an expert on elements related to combat, swordsplay and horsemanship, but the author's way of writing about these things feels realistic and his expertise in them is evident in the story.

The worldbuilding is impressive, because the author has created a vast fantasy world with its own countries, races, creatures and magic. The various areas and places are described surprisingly fluently as the story begins to unfold. The fantasy world is intriguingly beautiful and vibrant place with quite a lot of realism.

The fusion of medieval and modern elements works perfectly in this novel. The author has created an interesting concept and uses it to his advantage by writing about how magic and technology meet each other in a secondary world. The political elements are also handled well and it's interesting to read about them, because things advance at a steady pace.

The author writes intriguingly about behavioural and cultural differences between Earth and the fantasy world. Things concerning sex, sexuality, contraception and violence are handled in a fluent way. The gritty and violent elements spice up the story in a cool way, because the author doesn't shy away from realism.

This novel has bits of humour throughout the story that lighten the story and increase its entertainment values. The protagonist's comments and other characters' remarks are often quite amusing and made me chuckle out loud. It's great that the humour works well, because it's one of the reasons why the story is enjoyable.

There's something about this novel that slightly reminds me of Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Michael Crichton. It's kind of like an exotic hybrid of Clancy, Grisham and Crichton. It's distinctly different from the works written by these authors, but it also has a few things in common with them, because the author builds up atmosphere in a way that echoes the atmosphere featured in them.

Although I enjoyed Dragon's Trail and found it entertaining, I have to mention that it has a few flaws and imperfections regarding character development and the action-packed storyline, because I would've liked to see more in-depth character development and a bit less action. These flaws are, however, easy to overlook due to the author's enthusiastic storytelling and effortless worldbuilding.

I give this novel strong four stars on the scale from one to five stars, because it's good fantasy entertainment with a focus on fast-paced and action-packed storytelling. I look forward to reading the sequel, because it'll be fun to see what happens next. The story has all the makings of a future classic, so I'm excited to see where the author takes it next.

My final words are:

Joseph Malik's Dragon's Trail is delightfully fast-paced and intriguing fantasy entertainment for adults who are looking for something exciting to read. It's easy to like the story, because it's entertaining and moves swiftly forward. This novel is great and immersive fun for adult readers who enjoy gritty and action-filled fantasy stories.

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