Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire by James Gawley is a recently released novella telling the tale of Primus, a young legionnaire eager for the approval of his absent father, who finds himself learning a lot about the world and the rebellion his father helped lead as he sets out on a mission he feels he knows far too little about. It is set in a world strongly reminiscent of the Roman republic with hints that there’s something more, something magical in the world.
It is a well crafted story with convincing, interesting characters. But I felt it lacked direction; about a quarter of the way in, I realised I didn’t know where the story was going – what Primus’ goals were or what might be achieved. Primus follows actions, reacting to what is going on around him, rather than driving the plot. But then I realised I’d got a quarter of the way into the story before I had noticed this – a testament to Gawley’s strong prose and his ability to generate immersion in a reader.
The story ends rather abruptly; while there is certainly a climactic height of action and tension, and some interesting revelations, there remains the sense that the story is not yet done, merely the first volume of it. There are too many questions left unanswered, too much action promised by the story, for it to be concluded here. But it is strong enough for me to look forward to the next installment.
I found Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire an enjoyable, engrossing read and rate it 8/10.