I enjoyed Against the Beast. It had several very interesting elements: the magic system, the way the antagonists worked, the stealing of the life energy, and the military organization were all there. The story is clean, which is fantastic and often hard to find in this genre.
I like that this story had a specific point and purpose. While it was setting up for other books, it was still a good solid story with beginning, middle and end.
The reason it is four stars is mainly due to pacing. Because there was world building, orcs, elves, magic, military, rangers and new fantasy creatures, it felt like a lot going on in a short amount of time, which made some of the story feel rushed. (Quick example is how they super charged their swords going into battle. That was something that was very creative and had the potential to be super cool, but seemed glossed over and a little rushed.) I think this same novella could have been easily expanded into a full novel that included Royn's training as a ranger. Then I would know more about what rangers were, how their gifts expressed themselves, how they were different from the other soldiers etc. Having said that... too fast paced is definitely better, in my opinion, than too slow and boring which this book certainly is not!
Definitely lots to look forward to in future books! I recommend this book to people looking for a clean, fun fantasy adventure!