SPFBO 9 Finalist Review: The Last Ranger by J.D.L. Rosell

SPFBO 9: The Last Ranger by J.D.L. Rosell

Welcome to the Final stage of SPFBO 9! As you know, the 10 blogs all picked their champion who advanced into the finals, including ourselves. Check out our SPFBO 9 page for more info! SPFBO 9 ends on April 30th, and so we’ll post our finalist reviews every two weeks or so until then.

Our 5th SPFBO 9 finalist review is for The Last Ranger by J.D.L. Rosell. The order of the reviews within a post will be in alphabetical order.

A quick reminder about how we are proceeding in the Finals: our judges had the freedom to opt out of reading any of the books due to personal interest, time restrictions, unforeseen life events, etc. Our aim is to have at least 4 reviews/scores for each finalist.

Both in the Semi-Final and Final stages we’ll have a DNF rule in place: if a judge reads a book (either semi-finalist or finalist if they didn’t opt out beforehand), they have to read at least 25% of it. If they decide to DNF between 25%-50% they’ll have to give a score but can opt out of writing a review, and if they DNF after 50% (or not) then also have to score AND write a review.

For The Last Ranger we have 3 reviews and 3 scores for your reading pleasures.

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at our 4th finalist!

Table of Contents

About the Book
Series:Ranger of the Titan Wilds #1
Genre:Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Publisher:self-published
Date of Publishing:December 27th, 2022
Book Blurb
The Last Ranger by J. D. L. Rosell

Betrayed. Hunted. Left for dead. But not even death itself can keep the last ranger from vengeance.

Leiyn “Firebrand” is no stranger to a fight. A brash ranger of the Titan Wilds, she takes up her bow to ward against the colossal spirit creatures known as titans, ever a threat to the colonies she has sworn to protect.

But no amount of skill can guard against treachery.

When tragedy strikes the rangers’ lodge, Leiyn vows to avenge the fallen. But if she is to succeed, she must embrace a power within her she has long denied.

Power to move mountains and rivers.

Power over life and death.

She did not choose this path, but Leiyn knows her duty. For if she fails, the legacy of the rangers dies with her—and all the Titan Wilds will fall into shadow.

Review

Jen

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages. A lot of that want was to do with the very pretty cover (which looks nice on my app btw) and the whole thing sounded right up my alley.

I dig classic fantasy. Its such a comfort thing for me and I’ve always been a fan of Ranger characters. I can’t lie – it’s the bow and arrows…. I guess I can thank Robin Hood, Hawkeye, and every Elven character ever for my love of archery in fantasy.

Anyway… I enjoyed what Rosell did with the main character Leiyn. It was good to have a lead character that had lots of great attributes – she’s loyal to her people, and her friends, funny, etc while still having a big flaw in her character, even if did at times, make her a little unlikeable when we saw that side of her shine through. Leiyn’s biggest flaw is that really dislikes the Gast people, and I mean with a passion that is nearly blinding to her common sense.

What I liked most though is seeing her growth over the course of the story and her even realizing at times she may be biased as all hell, but still not being able to help herself from feeling that way.

Also, I loved her coming in to her own with her magic and how her acceptance of the Gasts, also meant accepting the part of herself that could use their magic.

There’s a lot of stuff that I wanted to bring up about her father and their relationship but we are getting into spoiler territory there so I’ll just say I appreciated the love he had shown his daughter, while still being totally wrong in his thinking. So much of the time the circumstances here, would have led to this being a neglect situation. (Hopefully, that made sense while still being totally vague.)

I think The Last Ranger would be a great intro into the genre, just because the overall tone and its world full of cool creatures feels very classic and would be great for a wide range of ages- teen to adult. I would have eaten this book up with a spoon if I’d found it as a teen.

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Liis

Read: 41%

The Last Ranger is one of those epic fantasy books that in theory make me drool. Look at that cover – it’s a sight! And, I love the outdoorsy adventurous setting. Love the sort of ‘back to roots’ simple lifestyle of hunting and living with meagre comforts. All the more so, it makes me utterly frustrated to say this because The Last Ranger was one of those finalists I couldn’t wait to get stuck into; and whilst there were a few super interesting elements that kept me going (like the mention of dryvans, I think I could read a book just about them.), I had to accept the fact that I simply wasn’t enjoying it as much as I had imagined I would. By the time I reached 40%, the book had lost me.

For me, even though the story does progress, it does so rather slowly and it simply didn’t keep my interest. A classic case of “It’s me, not you.” There is a story here, no doubt, and the writing is solid. There are also big, impactful conflicts, and I usually love conflicts. One is the invasion of foreign forces and that turns nasty with settlements razed and people dying. Secondly, Leiyn, our main character, poses within herself another great conflict – there’s a war within her about who she is and who she does not want to be. She’s stubborn and strong and that’s surely bound to work for the good of the outcome, but it also creates further conflicts – all very good stuff for a story. But, that’s the thing about fictional characters and the humans reading about them – everyone seems to get their own perspective on things and it either wins you over, or not. Thirdly, the part that I never actually really got to – the titans.

Something in this whole book didn’t quite click with me… As separate elements, I had no issue as such with anything – the atmosphere is there, the action is there, there is a purpose, some danger… But when put all together, I was missing pure, unadulterated reading enjoyment.

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Paul

Read: 100%

The Last Ranger was a mixed bag for me; on one hand, I was enticed by the Iberian-themed culture and the danger of the Titan Wilds; on the other, I didn’t really gel with the characters or the plot.

The Last Ranger draws inspiration from the Spanish colonisation of the New World with the Ilberian Union asserting their unwanted presence over the local people (who feel like a blend of both Native American and Mesoamerican cultures). The Titan Wilds are vast swathes of untamed land full of gargantuan creatures (thar be Titans), immensely powerful spirits, and god knows what else. Unfortunately, while J.D.L. Rosell’s setting was stupendously intriguing, it all felt so underused by the end of the book. Where the societal structures and people all bore their Ilberian names proudly, there was very little flavour outside of that with the world feeling very much a ‘by-the-numbers’ fantasy setting. There were flashes of genuine interest as we travailed the Titan Wilds, but bar a couple of instances needed to further the plot, there was very little ranging and very little interaction with the setting.

For me, the problem was that the narrative and plot were very focused on the main character, Leiyn. Being completely honest, I found her an unrelatable and unlikeable protagonist from the off. She hates the local people to the point of racism, hates the local culture, hates the local spirits (though seems a fan of the Titans), and feels extremely un-rangerly. Sure, there are reasons for this, and they’re explained through a number of flashbacks, but still, it just didn’t feel organic, particularly given how quickly she changes her position towards the end of the book.

Plot-wise, The Last Ranger moves along at a steady clip, and while it didn’t throw any real surprises my way, it did tick all of the necessary boxes and have full resolution come its conclusion.

Overall, your enjoyment of The Last Ranger will largely depend on how much you like the MC.

Our Judgement
Team Queen's Book Asylum's scores for The Last Ranger by J.D.L. Rosell
Bjorn: X
Jen: 7.5
Liis: 5.5
Olivia: X
Paul: 5.5
Timy: X

Our score for The Last Ranger by J.D.L. Rosell

Score 6/10

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