The Buried Symbol (The Runes of Issalia, Book I)
Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to a life below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire's ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire’s future leaders are trained.
As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.
Brock’s compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, becoming a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.
This story is filled with interesting characters, each with distinct personalities. Brock, who is the main character, is likeable and is a good person. When he does the wrong thing, it is with good intention and for the right reasons. It's refreshing to find a main character who you root for so strongly.
The writer does a good job of drawing emotion, making you feel sad for Brock's losses and thrilled for his victories. My favorite aspect about this book is the sense of wonder and discovery that I kept feeling as Brock went through his training at the academy, dug into secret information, and learned how to use the lost magic that he discovered along the way.
I thought that the plot was well-conceived and interesting. There are a number of twists that are totally unexpected, which I love. While most questions I had were answered by the end, those remaining are clearly part of a larger plot and left me greatly anticipating the next book in the series.