In our second week, Bibliomancy for Beginners tackled Karen Miller’s high fantasy novel The Innocent Mage. This was Rachel’s choice, and it was a good one! If you missed out on this week’s hangout, you can check out the video below my review. Come hang out with us next week, when we do my choice of book: City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster!
Enter the kingdom of Lur, where to use magic unlawfully means death.The Doranen have ruled Lur with magic since arriving as refugees centuries ago. Theirs was a desperate flight to escape the wrath of a powerful mage who started a bitter war in their homeland. To keep Lur safe, the native Olken inhabitants agreed to abandon their own magic. Magic is now forbidden them, and any who break this law are executed.Asher left his coastal village to make his fortune. Employed in the royal stables, he soon finds himself befriended by Prince Gar and given more money and power than he’d ever dreamed possible. But the Olken have a secret; a prophecy. The Innocent Mage will save Lur from destruction and members of The Circle have dedicated themselves to preserving Olken magic until this day arrives. Unbeknownst to Asher, he has been watched closely. As the Final Days approach, his life takes a new and unexpected turn …
3 1/2 stars
Let me be straight about one thing first: I usually do not like high fantasy. I just get really, really bored with the extensive world building and background and everything that’s dropped into this book. So I’m going so say straightaway that I thought a lot of the world building and back story was really unnecessary, but I tried not to let that influence my rating of the book because I know that’s a lot of what high fantasy is about.
The book opens up with the strong personality of Asher, who leaves his small fishing village to go make money in the capital. He is an Olken, a race considered subservient to the ruling Doranen, who have magic. Within hours of entering the city, Asher rescues the Crown Prince from his bucking horse. As recompense, he is offered a job at the Crown Prince’s stables. But the Crown Prince has bigger plans for Asher, and a secret society of Olken mages called the Circle has even GREATER plans.
When this book opened up, I knew within seconds that Asher and I were going to be great friends. His sarcastic personality made the book for me, through and through. He always had the best comebacks for everything. I was a little annoyed with the heavy dialect that ran rampant throughout his dialogue, but once I muddled through that I was laughing out loud. Sadly, he was one of the only characters that I really connected with. Too many of the other characters seemed to have bipolar disorder throughout the parts of the story, or seemed flat next to Asher’s personality. I was further frustrated when Asher seemed to take a back seat as the book went on, mostly to Prince Gar. Because here’s the thing:
We were promised that Asher would become the Innocent Mage. It’s the TITLE of the book. But the only thing that is established as far as Asher and magic are concerned is that Asher HATES it. Prince Gar deals with more magic than Asher does, and Prince Gar is called a cripple because he was born without it.
As I expected it would, this book dragged on with me. It just wasn’t for the reasons I expected. I knew there would be parts that were slow for me, but there were entire characters whose entire purpose was to say “We must wait for the Prophecy to make itself known,” “We must wait,” “We must wait.” This book is 1 in a 2 part series. That means that there is now only 1 book for Asher to become the Innocent Mage, learn magic, get over his hatred of magic and save the world. Let it be known that I am asking for this to have been extended, so you know that there is more time that should have been given to this. It was also a complete let down after reading, considering the title of the book is the Innocent Mage.
In terms of plot, I found several key events to be rather thrown in there for the sake of moving the action along, especially in the beginning and the end. The middle, though, flowed quite nicely–especially since, again, Asher tended to carry this bit. Anything with Asher made my day, and continued to give me faith despite being jerked around in other corners and not liking characters in others.
All in all, this book is somewhere in between a like and a love for me. This is a really high rating on a high fantasy, coming from me. I want to lend this book to my brother and several friends because I enjoyed it so much, and I’m glad I owned it. Also, I didn’t realize had as many feels for this book until the ending happened and then I was screeching IT CAN’T END THERE IT CAN’T OHMYGOOOOOOD. I was ready to dislike this one a lot more than I did, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
Want to know more about what I and my book club think about it? Watch the video below! (This was the most impassioned discussion EVER.)