When wizards start to disappear, one of them a good friend, the wizard Karden and his closest friend, the swordmaster Vasco, find themselves up against the evil forces of bad wizards, led by the grotesque Maeric, who want to overthrow the good wizards; and so, we are thrust into a tale of warring wizards, good versus bad, spell versus spell and whose magic can surpass whose.
I did like Randy's style and the way he transferred his imagination onto paper – it's not 'flowery' or overdone, there aren't long descriptive passages with adjectives fighting each other for prominence on the page, it's a very down-to-earth, let's-get-down-to-business style; and it works. The scenes of action when the war intensifies and climaxes and draws on every last ounce of wizards' strength and expertise were brought to life with as much skill and directness as those tinged with emotion where we see Karden struggling with the grief of his loss of loved ones and subsequently struggling with the re-emergence of feelings he thought he would never be able to feel again for the beautiful, but independently-minded Nara. Despite the wizards' and sorceresses' fantastical attributes of being able to heal injuries in seconds, or evoke a tidal wave or transport themselves from place to place in ways that would make the 'beam me up Scottie' guile look like child's play, Randy nevertheless deftly injects 'human' qualities into his characters. They too can be reckless, strong, fearless, evil and unscrupulous as well as gentle, loyal, amiable, proud and vulnerable and able to fall in love.
The ending is a mixed bag of predictability, sadness, poignancy and happiness……if Maeric is to be obliterated for ever, a sacrifice that changes the wizards lives for ever has to be made.
Epic fantasy may not be your preferred genre, put if you fancied dipping your toe into the category, there is no way better than with the Wizard's Refrain. You will not be disappointed.