Thoughts: The Warden by Daniel M. Ford

Source: NetGalley – Many, many thanks to the publisher!
TL;DR: Cozy and fun – A big recommendation from me!

Plot: The plot of this has a slow, cozy start then takes us for a fun adventure that never quite looses that cozy feeling
Characters: Fun and endearing, I really loved the two main characters of Tun and Aelis, especially Aelis’ habit of talking to herself
Setting: Pitched as ‘Twin Peaks meets wizards’ I can see where the Twin Peaks part comes in. It’s a little backwater village with the warm, tight atmosphere you’d expect.
Magic: Obviously extremely D&D inspired, he did a fantastic job with the mechanics and adaptation of Spell Slots in this world. Loved that touch.


This is one of those Fantasy books that I feel like has been very misrepresented both by it’s cover (which is beautiful) and it’s pitch. The Warden was a cozy fantasy about a wizard sent to a ‘back-water’ town to become their Warden. This role puts her into basically the position of a sheriff or justice of the peace. She also works as the town medic and assists the town with tasks from reading and writing letters to fixing fences when needed. Unfortunately for Aelis, this town where she is to take up this job is frightened of her. Mainly due to the black robes and Necromancer colors she bears. She graduated with certification from three schools, but the Necromancy school is her primary and scariest one. Over the course of the novel we see her begin to win over the townsfolk, find new friends, and uncover a dark plot.

First off, there is no way this isn’t D&D inspired. It could be hard to see for someone who is not familiar with the systems of Dungeons & Dragons, but if you are it’s obvious but delightful. Mr. Ford has adapted the idea of the spell slot (that mechanic in D&D that limits a spellcasters abilities per level) into the magic system here. In addition the schools of magic are very much true to the same system that D&D has. For that this book won for me endless marks – I am a DM and lover of Dungeons & Dragons and I just want to get this out of the way. This book is for people like me.

Now to the rest of the book! The characters are fantastic and well drawn. What I would call our primary cast is clearly the strongest and most developed but the others give just enough intrigue and have enough dimension to add to the story. A lot of interesting setup for future books can be seen in these characters, while also helping the cozy feeling of the book with a tight knit, friendly cast. The story itself is much the same! The first portion of this is Aelis arriving and finding her Tower in ruins. Thus we follow her as she begins to make friends, find improvements and performs small tasks. It’s not till nearly 40% that we see the meat of the plot begin to appear but it felt so relaxing and fun till that point that I didn’t mind at all.

The ending of this book did have me enraged. Not because it was poorly done or because I didn’t like it but because CLIFFHANGER MUCH? This is one of those rare occasions where I am so mad I have to wait for another book that I almost wanted to dock a star from this – which would have been unfair so I did not – but what a way to end it! I laid my ereader down and shouted at my husband “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT?”

Final thoughts – ignore the ‘action packed’ phrasing and the dynamic cover, which again IS BEAUTIFUL. This book felt farm more reminiscent of something like Legends & Lattes to me. Sure there is some fighting and some action later in the book but the vibes and the feels sink this into the Cozy Fantasy genre for me. I recommend this whole heartedly to fans of that genre and my fellow Dungeons & Dragons nerds. This is a fantastic new book to start a new series and I’m pumped to get my own copy, and also anxiously awaiting the next book!


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