TITLE : The Trials Of Ashmount (Tragedy Of Cedain #1)

AUTHOR : John Palladino

GENRE : Grimdark Fantasy, Fantasy


PAGES : 540

DATE OF PUBLISHING : July 12, 2022

PUBLISHER : Self Published

Welcome to my tour stop for The Trials Of Ashmount, the first book in the Tragedy Of Cedain Series by John Palladino, hosted by Escapist Book Tours. I am so grateful to be part of The Escapist Book Tours and for getting the chance to review the book and do a Q & A with the author. Make sure to check The Escapist Book Tours out because they do an awesome job of introducing a lot of new titles mainly self pub and indie published SFF books. 

If you are interested in checking out the official page for the book tour – CLICK HERE 

The Trials of Ashmount tour stops (blog)

Content/Trigger Warnings :

Shown on page :

Violence, Some gore, Child murder, Animal violence, Torture

Alluded to :

Rape, Sexism, Ageism, Racism, Ableism


Cedain is destined to collapse.
Across a world rife with blood, betrayal, and brutality, five people wade through unexpected tragedies.
An egotistical student, a fleeing refugee, a nomadic warrior, a fallen noble, and a criminal in hiding
navigate the sinister dealings of politicians, two sudden wars, and nefarious lies that surface at
Ashmount—a university dedicated to teaching the five branches of magic.
Survival means adapting or dying.


Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing good. My dedicated non-spoiler detailed book review for The Trials Of Ashmount is on my Youtube Channel. I hope you will watch the video and support it and also make sure to check out this debut grim dark fantasy. Enjoy!! Also Check out the author interview down below.


1. What was your inspiration for writing The Trials Of Ashmount? What is it about Grimdark that appeals to you the most?

I’ve always wanted to be an author and when Covid happened, my work sort of screwed me over by docking my hours and pay, so I quit. After I quit, I realized it was the perfect time to make an attempt, so I did. The inspiration for this specific book was the magic system – a system I’d had loosely in my mind since high school. Joe Abercrombie is also a huge inspiration/influence. I’ve always loved his characters and fight scenes. Grimdark appeals to me the most because in my mind, it’s “realistic fantasy” (honestly I don’t think it should be called Grimdark). Consequences happen. Characters think for themselves, not just for the “greater good”. People die. It’s unpredictable. I love
everything about Grimdark.

2. What are some of the fantasy books that have influenced you as an author? 

I mentioned before Joe Abercrombie’s books, but another influence is A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM. I’d say Abercrombie for characters/fights and GRRM for characters/world. I also always enjoyed the food in both Redwall by Brian Jacques and Harry Potter by JK Rowling, and ended up incorporating some of that in my book.

3. What was the research and writing process like?

I didn’t do a whole ton of research, but I did look at Abercrombie for fight scenes. Outside of written works, I looked up information on some food, clothing, armor, and camels. I had to do a decent amount of camels, and I realized right before publishing The Trials of Ashmount that a camel has feet and toes, not hooves. I had to make some changes really quick there (this just reminded me to double-check the first draft of book two and I found a few errors there, too, so thank you!).

4. Do you have any writing rituals?

No. I’m a strong believer in writing when you feel like you should. I don’t write every day. I tend to write around the same times, but I don’t have any specific amounts of time or anything like that. I write until I don’t “feel it” anymore and then stop. Sometimes this means I write for months at a time, and then I’ll often “crash” and not write anything for several months.

5. If you couldn’t write in the genre you write in, which genre would you prefer to write in?

When I was in high school I wrote a whole novel. It was science fiction (though there was fantasy in it, too… so… maybe that book would’ve been classified as science fantasy… I’m not quite sure) and I loved writing it. I love space, I love the idea of exploring new worlds and species, battles in ships… I get giddy just thinking about all of it. My own version of Star Wars or Star Trek would be so much fun to write, I’m just not smart enough to write science-y shit.

6. Which genre would be the most challenging for you to write in and why?

Honestly anything outside of fantasy or science fiction. I find any other genre to be incredibly boring to think about writing, and I don’t read outside of fantasy/science fiction. It’s just not my style. I think I’d want to start throwing in some crazy stuff and wouldn’t be able to.

7. Tell us about a funny/weird/cool/most shocking thing you discovered while researching for the series.

It was probably the camel toes. I always knew they had them, I just didn’t know it was called
that. I thought it was just a split hoof.

8. How has your journey of book publishing been?

Absolutely wild. I can’t believe how well things have gone. I’m shocked at the level of interest there’s been for The Trials of Ashmount. I can’t wait to get the sequel out there.

9. Tell us about the most fun and favorite thing you got to write in the book.

Without offering spoilers, I will say that anytime I got to hurt or kill a character, I was very happy.

10. What do you love the most to write and hate to write in your stories?

I love writing about the magic, and as I said above, I love hurting and killing characters. I love writing anything that might make a reader’s jaw drop. The thing I hate to write the most? Probably romance or sex scenes. I’ve tried to incorporate elements of both here and there in my writing before (and very VERY slightly in this series so far) and I just don’t think I have the skill to do it well.

11. How did you come up with the world for this series and the magic system?

The world is actually a map I had originally commissioned for a Dungeons and Dragons game I was DMing. I carried the original map through several campaigns, and then when I decided to write The Trials of Ashmount, I figured I’d use it (although I changed most of the town/city names). I had a new map commissioned for the book, because the other map wouldn’t have worked on paper. The magic system I thought up in high school. I always thought it’d be really cool to have a magic system tied to one’s life, and the idea that consuming your life would then age you in real time, after casting some crazy magic just really appealed to me. All of the various branches came when I started writing the book.

12. If you were on a mission with a team of your own to save Cedain from a calamity, who would you like to be on your team(please choose authors you want on your team) and your reason for choosing them?

Oh boy. This question is very ironic considering you don’t know the ending of the series. I would
like to elaborate there but… well, spoilers. Because you didn’t specify a number, I’ll assemble a team of
five (including me). I feel like the authors I’m about to pick will probably end up dying with me, but here we go… I think I’d like Joe Abercrombie. He seems to have a lot of the wit and humor one would need for a mission. Krystle Matar could be the heart of the mission. Every team needs somebody who has emotions and knows when it’s time to cry – to counter this, I’d be the cold, emotionless bastard who made the hard decisions. Every good team needs a brilliant mind, and Mark Lawrence has had secret security clearance in not one, but two countries. That leaves us with the muscle of the operation. Nobody specifically comes to mind here. Perhaps Christopher G. Brenning. He has the beard needed to blend into this role. Hell, I’m not convinced he’s NOT 50% barbarian already.

13. What are the best things and the worst things about your main characters?

Honestly, I don’t know. The best thing about Villic is that he IS a main character in the book. Originally, he had 3 very short interludes and that was it. After feedback, and discussing why he had those 3 chapters with my alpha readers and editor, it became clear he needed to be promoted to main character. I’d say the worst thing about Kelden is every time I returned to his chapters, I had this overwhelming writer’s block. I think it was because, as a discovery/pantser writer, I already knew a lot of his journey in my head, so I wasn’t really “seeing what happened” with him, it was more “get him to where I know he needs to be”. About 40% into the book is when that started with Kelden, and it didn’t really let up.

14. What do you love about academic settings and specifically magic academy/university settings?

I’ve always loved that story. I’ve read about them in Harry Potter, Name of the Wind, Brent Weeks’ books. I think I love the learning + discovering the world/magic + the relationships between the other students. Originally Kelden’s storyline was going to be very close with those books, it was going to feel much more like a Harry Potter. However, the scope of Trials became a lot bigger and I realized that if I wanted to do that, the book would have to be trimmed down a lot. I think if I wanted to do that, I’d have to do only one or two POVs. So instead of really going the Harry Potter route, I went kind of zoomed out a little bit and showed a little learning, a little of the relationships, but the book would’ve ballooned to a huge amount of words if I’d done what I wanted… which would’ve been okay, but I don’t exactly know how I would extend all the other POVs.

15. Your favorite underhyped books you want more people to read. 

I haven’t read it, but NC Koussis just released The Sword of Mercy and Wrath. He’s a great person and I’m hoping he finds some success.

Book Links:

Universal Link | Goodreads


You’ve stumbled upon somebody who takes nothing seriously, not even author bios. It’d be a good
guess to say John Palladino was born in 1988, lives in Avoca, New York, has a bachelor’s degree in
Business Management, and enjoys hibernating at home while writing. He might also lie and say he
enjoys pets, long walks on the beach, and his hobbies include happiness and scuba diving. You’d see
right through those lies, however, and notice he prefers the simpler things in life—reading, video games, and making ill-timed jokes. John also dislikes taking care of anything that excretes substances.

John’s socials :



Giveaway Information:

Prize: A Paperback Copy of The Trials of Ashmount!
Starts: October 27, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: November 2, 2022 at 11:59pm EST



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