By: John J. Spearman
Published by: Avon Old Farms School
Publication Date: October 31, 2022
Reviewed By: Tripti Kandari
Review Date: November 25, 2022
The fifth installment of Casimir FitzDuncan's adventure series by John J. Spearman, FitzDuncan's Gambit, blends a fictional memoir of war, shenanigans, and intrigue with the escapades of its venturesome hero, Caz.
As the stigma of being the bastard son of the Earl of the March fades for Casimir "Caz" FitzDuncan, now Lord Oritur, he embarks on a new role as a leader, duty-bound to protect the people of the March. Caz is off to conduct an unprecedented initiative in response to the continuous onslaught of Nomads on March. He determines not to let the nomads control the course of the battle as he takes an aggressive approach with the former rangers and armaments men at his side. However, his anxiety soon changes course as he considers whether his success will aggravate his willowy father's anguish over his inability to rule and his mistakes from the past.
Meanwhile, the castle of Easton - the filthy and crumbling manor - undergoes a roller coaster of arduous renovations before ultimately ushering in a happy homecoming for the FitzDuncans. However, as peace and normalcy set in for Caz, his tendency to attract parlous escapades grabs hold of him. A trading agreement laced with manipulation and deception awaits him and his equally zealous collection of pals. The trouble knocks again at the door of FitzDuncan's as Dr. Flamel, the soothsayer who foretold the bestowal of Caz's birthright, prognosticates another prophecy. As the prognostication rings with peril and uncertainty, the miraculous insight of Lucy- the eccentric wife of Caz - convinces her- Caz must harness his abilities and link to the Martial Arts Gods.
The author's explorations focus on the relationship of man with their spiritual authority. We see a strong correlation between luck and efficiency, as well as God's assistance for people who strive for success, via Caz and his determination to attain his goals. As he overcomes one challenge after another, his persistence and his connection to divinity set him apart on the way to invincibility. As the story progresses from a tale of wars and intrigues to a magical realism portrayal, elements of diplomacy, adventure, and conflict are muddled together with the occult and Lucy's off-center powers.
Another characteristic of fantasy fiction that appears throughout is carnivalesque. The dissatisfaction and frustration of Caz with Aquileia's class structure lead him to defy the primitive rules of class even after his ascension to Lord Oritur. Though he still astounds at the regard he now receives against the treatment he had following his single stamp of bastard in the past, the negotiations between Caz and other subordinates set against the categories of influence. This characteristic contributes to the story's brightness by releasing the dominant style or atmosphere through humor and disorder. The narrative recounts the adventures and experiences of Caz in the guise of a fictional memoir in the story. While the point-of-view is limited to one individual, with only Caz as the narrator, the characters are all well-developed and provide a lot of insight into their distinct personalities.
Quill says: FitzDuncan's Gambit portrays a panorama of conflicts, conceits, and light-hearted concord - all engaging in a flight of fancy - as realistic and imaginative.
For more information on FitzDuncan's Gambit (The FitzDuncan Series Book 5), please visit the author's website at: johnjspearmanauthor.com/.