A Blight of Mages

In Book Reviews on September 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

A Blight of Mages

Orbit 2011

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!

  1. I just finished the book yesterday. I was also a little surprised it wasn’t a two book series because there is a lot of stuff that I thought could (should?) have been added. I’m trying to vague because you haven’t read the Fisherman’s Children books yet so I don’t want to risk any spoilers. I will say I absolutely loved them and gave them all five stars on Goodreads.

    I have the Godspeaker series on my shelf to read…I am hoping you and I disagree on Empress. 😉

    • I’ll definitely read the Fisherman’s Children series soon. Good to know that you liked them!
      Yes, hopefully we disagree on Empress and that you like it. You’ll have to let me know. People on Goodreads seem to be really polarised when it comes to that series. There didn’t seem to be any ‘meh’ responses; people loved it or hated it.

  2. I read Empress and the following two books after Innocent Mage and I have to say, give it a chance. If you finished Empress, give it a chance and try the next two. It switches to the rest of the world and you see the culmination of Hekat’s plans and the response of the world. It was grand…epic.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. The world didn’t interest me though. I saw what Miller was trying to do with her portrayal of religious extremism, but it didn’t appeal to me in any way. I also hated Hekat. It’s hard for me to stay interested in a book when the main character is smug, smarmy and in every way unlikable. There was a lot of eye-rolling on my part and that puts me right off of the others. It’s interesting that you liked them. People seem to be quite polarised with these books so it’s good to hear from someone who enjoyed them. Thanks very much for commenting!

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