History 2.0 – A review of The Last Summoner by Nina Munteanu

The Last Summoner by Nina Munteanu

The Last Summoner by Nina MunteanuWhy I chose this book

A few months back I put out a call to various authors of speculative fiction to guest blog over on the Warpworld Comms. The subject was real life places, people, or events that had inspired their work. Nina Munteanu was one of our guests and her description of the painting behind her novel The Last Summoner fascinated me.

What it’s about

The Last Summoner is a blend of fantasy, history, and alternate history. Fourteen year old Vivianne , the story’s hero, discovers that she has strange powers on the eve of the legendary Battle of Grunwald.  Marked as a witch, Vivianne escapes through time and space, but her actions change history and threaten to destroy the world.

The cover blurb

Every Choice Has Its Price…

…Vivianne Schoen, the young Baroness von Grunwald, makes the startling discovery that she can alter history—but not before she is branded a witch and must flee through a time-space tear. Now in an alternate present day France ruled by Teutonic Black Knights in a fascist regime, she must decide how to remake history before she is captured by the devil himself

My thoughts

Ordinarily, historical fiction doesn’t excite me, but the premise of this novel—which included a good dash of fantasy and time travel—was an exception. There is history aplenty and Munteanu has obviously done her homework. The world of 15th century Germany is authentically realized and the little touches of fantasy blend seamlessly.

I was pleased with Vivianne as a hero. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when otherwise historically accurate fiction gives female characters significantly more power and independence than they would have known in reality. Munteanu finds plausible ways to endow her protagonist with the skills and knowledge necessary for the plot without stretching plausibility.

What I most enjoyed about this story was that for the majority of it I genuinely didn’t know where the plot was going or what would happen next. I’m one of those annoying people who can usually figure out the entire plot of a book or movie within the first few scenes (watching movies with me can be challenging), so to come across a story that stumped my super CSI powers of deduction was a real treat.

I had only two niggling complaints, both of which I chalk up to personal preference and not the skill of the author. One is so minor that I won’t even mention it; the other deserves at least a few lines. The first two thirds of the story have a good pace and lots of detail—it all felt very “in the moment”. The final third felt rushed, with big leaps forward in time. This could have worked except that the final third also turned a bit “preachy” for my taste.  The moment I feel I am being taught a lesson or I can sense the author’s personal agenda bleeding through, I pull out of a story. In this case, I was already invested in the characters and the story, and the preaching wasn’t heavy handed enough to turn me away but it was noticeable.

Overall, this was a good, clever read and I think that history buffs would really enjoy it.

Will I read more by this author?

Yes.

You should read this book if…

  • You love fantasy, history, or a combination of the two.
  • You’re a fan of time travel and its many twists and turns.
  • The concept of influencing historical events to create a better world intrigues you.
  • You’re tired of every story about a teen protagonist being set in the USA or featuring vampires.

Where to find The Last Summoner on The Zon: The Last Summoner

Up next: Deathless by Catheryne M. Valente

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One Response to History 2.0 – A review of The Last Summoner by Nina Munteanu

  1. thealiennextdoor says:

    Hi Kristene,

    Thanks for this thoughtful and honest review of my first historical fantasy (I normally write science fiction… hard science fiction too… )

    Best Wishes,
    Nina

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