Book Review: Mystic Reborn (An Archives of Evelium Tale) – Jeffrey Speight


Hopefully third time is the charm, and this review will make it out into the world despite wordpress and my on the move wifi not playing ball. Anyway, today I am delighted to be (belatedly) reviewing Mystic Reborn by Jeffrey Speight, the second book in the Archives of Evelium and the folow up to the wonderful Paladin Unbound. A massive thank you to the author for the physical arc and sorry it’s taken so long!

Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

Book Summary:

Some paths are meant to be walked alone.

Mystic Reborn is the continuation of Paladin Unbound, the
award-winning start of the Archives of Evelium.

After embracing his destiny as the last of the Paladins, Umhra
the Peacebreaker is granted ancient powers by the gods. When
he returns to the ruins of Antiikin to fulfill a promise, he
embarks on a journey that will push the limits of his abilities.

As the Grey Queen’s arrival heralds the fulfillment of a
prophecy that could mean the end of humanity, the kingdom
of Evelium desperately needs a hero. Can Umhra once more
rise to the challenge and save mankind from annihilation?

The Review:

What a joy it was to return to The Archives of Evelium. Paladin Unbound was incredibly fun book, which I loved both as a fantasy reader and a D&D player, and I have to admit I had high expectations for this book – and oh boy, Mystic Reborn did not disappoint. There is no second book hesitation here, Mystic Reborn knew exactly what it was doing and where it was going from the moment it exploded out of the starting box, and it doesn’t let up for the entire ride, and this was a book that I struggled to put down (not that I wanted to). And what a ride! Everything that I loved about the first outing in this world – from the worldbuilding, to the characters, and the action are all here, but on a whole other level.

Firstly though – THE MAPS. I loved the map of Evelium in Paladin Unbound, but now we have two maps – by the amazing Thomas Rey – and we get to see the true scope of this world that Speight has created, and we need that insight in this book, because people and events are on the move, and in Mystic Reborn we get a true sense of the scale of the story that Speight is out to tell us. Both in terms of geography, but also in terms of the fate of the world – and how every action and choice have an impact; and the maps help to ground that, to let us look at these places, and the paths the characters are taking and see it all come together.

One of my favourite aspects of this series has always been the worldbuilding, and we see that expand greatly in Mystic Reborn – and one part of that is because of the world opening up as the characters take different paths, even going so far as to split the party (Speight how could you?!), and we get to learn about the world through their interactions and experiences. I love how organic that learning is, and its one of the reasons why those diverting storylines work so well, because we get to experience the world with the characters rather than through those dreaded info-dumps, and it works especially well here in a full-throttle book. We also have the wonderful chapter epigraphs, which add in pieces of lore from various sources throughout the book and is one of my favourite ways of having layers added to a world.

Within the ~400 pages of the adventure, we are taken on a tour of Evelium and here we really get both that feeling of a classic fantasy, D&D campaign, but also a real sense of the author’s love of this world. We get to crawl through ancient ruins, travel through freezing lands and even stand in the footsteps of Gods, and all of it is brought to life with some of the amazingly, vivid descriptions that will have you feeling as though you are stood right there. Building that on top of the organically expanding world, and Evelium has well and truly become a character in it’s own right, this world lives and breathes, it feels the impact of events past and current, and is continually in motion.

And then there are its denizens from the characters that flood the pages, to the many fantastical creatures that inhabit this world from frost giants and orcs, to wyverns and Fae Hobbs, and one of my favourites… Tursas.

‘The swell erupted. A monstrosity with a dozen tentacles protruding from a teal whalelike body burst through the sea’s turbulent surface. It was covered in white scars, each a testimony to the battles it had survived.’

We also get to learn more about the Mystics, and the new powers that Umhra has gained. One aspect that I liked about this, and one that is prevalent throughout the entire book is consequences. Here we see the impact of the events from the first book, that have shaped Umhra to this point – a far cry from the mercenary that we first met, and now we see that shaping his current path, and how he grows throughout the course of Mystic Reborn.

Which leads me nicely to the characters. Umhra remains my favourite, he’s still to my mind an unexpected main character but a wonderful one, and Speight’s characterisation is spot on with him. As I’ve said, that we can see the impact of what he’s been through, and what he’s become on his character is brilliant, and Speight has a deft hand at keeping Umhra true to himself while reflecting those changes. In Mystic Reborn it feels as though both Umhra and the author have really come into their own – perhaps hand in hand. We also get the feeling of Umhra really stepping into his role, from his efforts to learn about his powers and the mystics, even when it takes him down dangerous paths where his companions can’t follow; to then becoming a hero he probably never expected to be, when he finds himself against much greater threats. There is very much the feel of a classic hero’s story, and yet in an utterly modern way – yes fate is playing a hand here – but Umhra is a character with great growth and agency, and Speight allows us to see that, and creates a believable and gripping character arc.

The diverging storylines, at least for part of the book, meant that while Umhra and his story remain the main story and the long term arc, other characters had the chance to steal the limelight. We get the return of the Barrow’s Pact, also changed and shaped by the events of the first book – and facing new perils in this book, and I love that though the stakes are different, they felt no less real or important than what Umhra was facing; it was also great to see the bonds remain, even during the times they were apart.

Then there was Alessa and Talus, whose storyline was possibly one of my favourites. And while it took me a little while to warm to Talus, by the end he was probably one of my favourite – non-Umhra – characters in this book, again because of the development that Speight takes him through but also his personality and his attitude to what he was facing. (I also had to laugh when he was contemplating his odds against an entire ship’s crew).

Also…a personal favourite, for so many reasons is Forsetae (I just love a good sentient sword).

‘Ah. My final resting place. You intend to return me to these halls of the dead. The sword’s voice resonated in Umhra’s mind.

I intend to keep my promise. I have no desire to lose you as my companion, Umhra said.’

Mystic Reborn saw a ramping up of all elements, and we get to see that even more when the diverging storylines are reunited, and it really makes that splitting of the party worth it. Speight really has reached the next level with all elements of this book, it was a hugely entertaining read that swept me along from start to finish, with vivid, beautiful descriptions, epic flowing battle scenes, and intimate character moments that kept the stakes ever present and relatable. We get to live and breathe this world, to feel the perils and the fact that this world is a narrow knife’s edge. While the crescendo of this book was breath-taking and surprising and have left me with a dire need for the next book, and I was sad to reach the final page.

Mystic Reborn definitely saw both the author and the series really hitting its stride, without losing that core feeling of classic fantasy made modern, and of being caught up in a chaotic (are there any other kind?) D&D campaign – right down to shouting at the characters not to split the party. Paladin Unbound set the foundation, and Mystic Reborn has built a vast, sprawling world and story, filled with peril and fate on that foundation, without losing the power and charm that lies at the heart of this story. A hugely entertaining read that I will return to again, as it is perfect to scratch that classic fantasy and D&D itch all at once, and with characters that take your hand and haul you headfirst into their stories, and I can’t wait to see where Speight takes them and us next.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Broken Binding | Silverstones Books |


If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.


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