Argren Blue is Sure to Woo

Art is a reflection of who we are as a people. Of why we fight to be free from the Empire’s oppression. At its greatest, it represents truths we can’t express in words, truths that speak directly to our heart. The kind of truth that inspires people to rise up against impossible odds.

Argren Blue, Ross Hightower & Deb Heim

This is a story all about how I met a Milwaukee author on the Nextdoor app. Yes, you’ve heard that correctly. The Nextdoor app can be for more than silly inconsequential neighborhood complaints and missing pet updates. I’m just as surprised as you are.

It all started with this post: “Looking for a videographer for a local author book launch at the Black Husky June 4th. There will be food, beer, a short scene acted out by local actors, and a ballad!” Everything about this post made me happy and excited.

Obviously, I commented: “What’s the book called?” And Deb said: “Argren Blue. It’s a coming-of-age epic fantasy.”

Coming-of-age. Epic. Fantasy. She needn’t say anything else. I already knew I was going to read and write a review for this book. Not only because I’m obsessed with fantasy books, but it was also written by two people living in the greatest city in the world: Milwaukee. This was fate.

Without further ado, please enjoy my review of Argren Blue, written by Ross Hightower and Deb Heim.

Book Description

When Alar joined the resistance, he dreamed of throwing the imperial oppressors out of Argren. But as the inexperienced rebels reel from one disaster to another, Alar wonders if the Empire notices them at all. Until the day he discovers he has powers not seen since the great heroes of the past.

As he explores his newfound abilities, an imperial witch appears to ask the rebels to rescue prisoners from an Inquisition prison. The plan is crazy, but the rebels have been riding the ragged edge of crazy for years. Though their surprising success revives their dreams, they may come to regret drawing the Empire’s attention.

When a powerful inquisitor sends novice Harold Wolfe to root out the nascent rebel group, Harold has to wonder why. As a half-breed, Wolfe, is persecuted for his humble origins. By the time he discovers the trap, it’s too late to escape the tangled web involving the rebels, a mysterious assassin, a corrupt imperial governor, and foreign mercenaries, all vying for a cache of priceless art. While Harold looks for a way out, Alar and the rebels fight for their land, their people, and their freedom.

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Woooo doggy – where do I even begin? There were many elements of Agren Blue that drew me in, and in the process wooed me. Let’s break it down:

Incredible World Building

Argren Blue will take you to places like Richeleau, where the Oss’stera and corrupt governor live, to the artsy village of Lirantok, and Kartok which is home to the Inquisition Prison and House of Death. You’ll be taken to a time that is reflective of the middle ages, with horse-drawn wagons as the primary mode of transportation and bows and swords as the weapons of choice.

Hightower and Heim, through their thoughtful and thorough character and setting development, have created an enchanting world. I’m also certain that immersing yourself in this world will make you want to go to an old-timey pub and order a large mug of ale whilst listening to a bard sing.

Milwaukee Easter Egg: I was very giddy to discover one of the taverns in Richeleau is called Black Husky. If you’re from Milwaukee then you’ll know there’s a Black Husky Brewing Company in Riverwest. If you don’t live in Milwaukee then I feel sorry for you.

Complex Characters

Argren wouldn’t be Argren without its variety of characters. First, we have the rebel group, Oss’stera. Everyone in Oss’stera has been slighted by the Empire in some way shape or form and therefore is motivated and determined to create change. Alar, the unofficial leader, was only a boy when the inquisitors murdered his parents and took his sister. Tove, Alar’s BFF, has a scarred past and face thanks to the Empire. Ukrit and Scilla spent the majority of their lives in an evil Empire-free bubble until said Empire murdered their parents and attacked their village. Woof.

Then we have the friends of Oss’sstera like Ragan and Gallia, (ex) Seidi Sisters, and Brie who is a member of The Desulti. Ecke is a young witch who was taken by the Inquisition but eventually rescued by Alar.

All characters, big and small, caught my attention. I especially loved one of the younger rebels, Zaina, who gave off mega Lyanna Mormont vibes from Game of Thrones. I wished I could have seen more of The Desulti which is a group made up of lady assassins. What’s not to love about lady assassins?

If Argen itself doesn’t suck you in then I assure you its multitude of characters will.


I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more: I love magic. Thankfully, in the world of Argen, there is much of it. There are the Seidi Sisters, imperial witches, and the Alle’oss witches. The empire executes Alle’oss girls who exhibit magical powers at a young age. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the empire and their reasoning behind killing young Alle’oss witches, and that will be answered when you…read the book!

Alar, our main character, has the ability to walk between the physical realm and the realm of the dead. Known as realm walking, this is magic that hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years and has never been seen in an Alle’oss boy. It becomes a handy tool in fights because it appears as though Alar is moving at fast speeds when he is only walking between realms.

An Underdog Story

Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Here we have a group of youngish Alle’oss who are fighting against the Vollen Empire. The only problem is the Empire has no idea they exist. This doesn’t keep the Oss’stera in the highest of spirits, but it also doesn’t stop them from fighting a good fight. Heck no. They keep on trucking.

After enduring loss after loss, the group finally gets a win. With the help of (and because of) a Seidi Sister, Ragan, they manage to rescue two prisoners from the infamous House of Death. If you can’t tell from the name, it’s not a great place. Anyway, this seemingly impossible rescue finally puts them on the map.

Slowly the group begins to grow, with the help of its new members, spreading the word and mission of Oss’stera. In the end, there is so much hope and possibility for the rebel cause, and it brings immense joy to my heart.

Art History

Not only does this book feature magic, an underdog rebel group, and an evil empire (three of my favorite things) but there’s also a huge emphasis on art. The Alle’oss people have a deep connection to art, and that’s just one of the many things that the Empire has taken from them for reasons I won’t reveal.

I’ve taken Art and Art History classes in high school and college, so I’ve analyzed and criticized many a painting, but I’ve never really known the history behind colors, especially the color blue. I encourage you to visit Ross Hightower’s blog post and his nerdy take on Argren Blue. I found it very insightful.

Just Read It

The thing about Argren Blue is it’s sure to woo, so if you aren’t in the mood to be wooed, then don’t read this book. All those in favor of being wooed should get themselves a copy.

Argren Blue is a Prequel to the Spirit Song Trilogy, and guess what? The first book, Spirit Sight, is already published and it’s available for you to read right now. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve already downloaded and started reading it. I don’t think it really matters which book you start with, just as long as you read them both.

Here are some links to peruse at your leisure:

Special thanks go to Ross Hightower and Deb Heim for sharing their book with me. Argren is incredibly magical and I can’t wait to read more!

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