Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Blight of Mages Book Review

Title: A Blight of Mages
Author: Karen Miller
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 640
ISBN: 9780316029223

Dorana is a peaceful nation where magic runs through the blood of the people.

Barl Linden finds herself going against the Council of Mages, -- a group of the finest magic users in Dorana who vote and rule over the country's upper echelon of Mages. The Council chooses who may enter the mage schools of Dorana, and though an unspoken rule, limits education to only the strongest and most influential bloodlines of the nation, and the Linden bloodline prevents Barl from doing so.

With the Council comes some very interesting characters, including Morgan Danfey, a mage of the echelon of Dorana and the youngest mage to ever hold a seat on the Council of Mages. Through his ailing father's tyrannical power, Morgan is forced to search for a wife; a female to use only for the progress of the Danfey bloodline, name and influence.

Ignored by peers and loved ones alike, Morgan is forced to act while the rest of the country sits and waits unaware, studying the condemned and terrifying magic that has been hidden away to most of Dorana for centuries, to prevent the very fabric of Dorana from unraveling. And all the while he continues to search for a bride, and hold his seat with the Council.

When Barl Linden demands confrontation with the Council, Barl and Morgan Danfey meet for the first time, and something within them snaps; they recognize each other for what they truly are. And so begins their forbidden relationship. Brought to the forefront of Morgan's conspiracy, Barl begins to work endlessly to help her lover and mentor protect Dorana. And the question is raised: who does Dorana need protected from?

Although not the first book written in the series, A Blight of Mages is in fact the first book in the series. Written as a prequel to the Miller's duology Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, A Blight of Mages explains the story before the story. Luckily enough, this is my first Karen Miller novel, or 'Mage' novel. I've previously read  The Accidental Sorcerer -- more of an urban fantasy, even though it is set in another world -- written by K.E. Mills, a pen name of Miller, and thought it was fun.

But, like The Accidental Sorcerer, A Blight of Mages suffered from a few of the same problems. Namely: the pace, and the abruptness of the ending. Let me explain. It's not until well into three hundred pages that we meet Morgan and the Council. That's when things really get going. Everything before it sort of felt like filler, although a great in-depth character study, it just didn't gel too well with me. Regardless of whether or not a novel's full intent is to be one large character study or not, the story needs to begin immediately. And I didn't see it starting until well past page 200. On that same note, it would make sense however, that the Barl Linden's background be explored more. (For those that have read either Kingmaker or Kingbreaker, or both, you know why. Trying to stay as spoiler free as possible.)

It's definitely noticeable throughout the novel, where the story changes, and I found myself being taken aback several times. Miller does a wonderful job of twisting things just enough, especially once the reader has settled in and semi-gotten used to the situation at hand, which works in such a novel, especially since it has a larger page count. Even though it's a stand-alone prequel, I would love to see maybe more books set before Kingmaker, that go more in depth with the characters left at the end.

A Blight of Mages is vast in scope, and filled with memorable characters, and even some memorable quotes that will make you think, and possibly have you rethinking how you treat people.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to reading the Mage series. Karen Miller has proved to be an author to keep on my radar, and I intend to do just that. That's why I'm giving A Blight of Mages 8.0 TARDIS's out of 10.


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