Or perhaps what I’m hearing is the rest of my life ticking into oblivion, into obscurity, into nothing but eventual, echoing silence.
Nutshell blurb: Barl Lindin is an unranked mage who longs to be more than society will allow her to be. She wants to attend the College of Mages but is denied entry due to the low standing of her family. Thus thwarted, she sets into motion a series of events that will rip apart her country and create a new one.
I would like to start by saying that if you are interested in this book, you should probably start with the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. (The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage. I originally bought these books because I liked the covers and thought that they would look good on my shelves. I don’t know why that’s relevant. Anyway, they’re awesome.) This book is the prequel to those and you might get a bit confused at the end which would be pretty annoying.
So, back to what I thought about it.
This book left me breathless and did not disappoint.
The characters are so well written. The main character, Barl, was insufferably arrogant and self-assured, but she was written in such a way that I wanted her to succeed. I loathe arrogance, so it is a testament to Ms. Miller’s writing skill that she was able to make me feel sympathetic toward this person that I probably would have hated if I knew her in real life. In the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series (which takes place several hundred years after this story, and no, this isn’t going to be spoilerific) Barl is worshipped as a deity, so it was interesting to read her story and find out how un-goddess-like she actually is.
One thing that makes Ms. Miller’s writing so appealing (at least to me) is that she isn’t protective or precious about her characters. She puts them through hell. ALL OF THEM. No one is safe in her books. She’ll let you spend time with a character and get to know him or her. You’ll read a bit of back story and think, Oh cool. A new character that is going to be integral to the conflict resolution. And then she’ll kill them off or have them transmuted into some kind of monster and you’ll never hear from or about them again. At first you’ll be angry and scream “Why Karen? Why did you do it?” but then you’ll realise that it’s for the greater good and that the story is better because of it.
My one criticism of this book is that I think that it should have been split up into two books. This book was an eyebrow-raising 660 pages and I felt that some of the details were left out. For example, two of the central characters fall out with each other, as in ‘I never want to see your stupid face again’ falling out, but then we flash forward a couple of weeks and their friendship is semi-mended with no explanation of how that came to be or who caved. There’s also a really harrowing journey through some mountains where people get mauled by bears, bitten by snakes and fall off steep ledges but we’re told about it in flashbacks. It’s a pretty important journey and I felt that more attention should have been given to it. Given Ms. Miller’s love of the two book series, this would have been perfectly acceptable.
At any rate, I loved it and will eventually buy this book. I also plan to read her Fisherman’s Children series (The Prodigal Mage and The Reluctant Mage) that is a sequel series to her Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series (that I also plan to reread).
As an aside, I’ve also read the first book of her Godspeaker series, Empress, and well…hated it. I’m only saying this because if you’ve read and disliked any of the books in that series, don’t let that deter you from reading her Mage books. They are written in a completely different style. If I had read Empress before the Mage books, I would never have picked up anything else by her and would have missed out on some really great stories.
As always, I would love to know what you thought of any of her books.
Take care and see you next time!