Edge of the Woods

Great read, highly recommend.

Progression fantasy origin story in a fae setting. Character focused, low stakes, and slife-of-life.


A young swordsman must retrieve a magical blade—and learn the truth about his past—in this fantasy adventure set within the Arcane Ascension universe.

A young man lives among the trees of a primeval forest, raised by a wizened old sage and friend to the faeries and spirits of his home. He bears only half a name—Lien, an ancient word meaning “blade” or “edge”—and no knowledge of his heritage. As he grows, so too does his need for independence and answers. Thus, he begins his adventure, seeking a shattered sword and the truth behind the mysterious mark on his right hand.

To earn his freedom from his adoptive grandfather, Lien will seek to complete the trials of Anathema, a long-hidden weapon of devastating power. To succeed, he must master his own burgeoning power, learning swordplay and magic from fractured figments of ancient legends. Though his training will push him to the brink, failure comes at an even greater cost. For only with his talents fully forged will Lien stand a chance against his true foe: destiny itself.


As of writing this review, I’ve read the first book in the series (the only book right now).

You can really tell that Andrew’s been developing his world and universe for an ungodly amount of time. Edge of the Woods continues to expand on this universe with, well, both old and new characters. This is a story you could read on its own, but if you’ve read the other entries in the Arcane Ascension universe, you’ll be able to appreciate the characters and cameos. That is, if you can identify them, because it’s subtle. Actually, I wish I had more confirmation of my various suspicious, but I guess that’ll have to wait for the more books in the universe, grrr.

The story is a mix of coming of age, slice-of-life, and low-stakes training. We follow Lien, a child raised by an old wizard known as Gramps. Of course, you may know him by another name from another book, but I’m not saying who. Lien wants to face the trials (ie dungeon challenge) of his friend Ana, a sword faerie bound to the sword Anathema. To do that, he needs to grow a lot stronger, as Ana has a huge head start in terms of power. Complicating this is that Lien loves swords, but alas, he doesn’t have one. And in the fae realm, it’s not like he can pop down to a blacksmith to buy a blade of iron. It’s a touch spot to be in.

Of course, he finds his ways, he grows, he learns, he gets a mentor, and he has to wrestle with his own lack of identity. He’s not human, but he’s not fae. What’s his true name? His nature?

Identity itself is probably the main theme of the book. Whether its one’s name, their species, their gender, or the difference between past, future, and alternate versions of themselves, what makes a person themself? And how do we handle that uncertainty, or the process of change?

Of course, the theme is set inside a progression fantasy framework with discrete levels, a comprehensive magic system, and many fun pages of technique creation and improvisation. Characters are deep, but their depth is often hidden away due to the viewpoint of Lien and his lack of knowledge. Hints are given, here and there, flashes of the future and of the past, and this is where the prior history with the universe adds lost of potential depth.

I enjoyed the lack of world-ending stakes in this entry novel, and am curious as to how Lien is going to tie in with [redacted].

Read this if you:

  • Enjoy the Arcane Ascension universe
  • Enjoy slice-of-life and slower pacing
  • Want a character focused, almost introspective, story.