Bibliomancy for Beginners: Review and Hangout Video for “The Innocent Mage” by Karen Miller

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!

The Innocent MageThe Innocent Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker #1) by Karen Miller

Goodreads | Amazon

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.)

Bibliomancy for Beginners: Review and Hangout Video for “The Book of Lost Things” by John Connolly

Finally, the secret is out! I am one of four members of the new Google+ Hangout book club “Bibliomancy for Beginners.” This week, our book was John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. Below you’ll find my review, and after that the YouTube video of our hangout. Next week we’ll be doing The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller, and you should totally come hang with us! I’ll announce when the next chat is right here on the blog.

The Book of Lost ThingsThe Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Goodreads | Amazon

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

4 stars

This book was not something I’d usually read, but thus is the purpose of our book club. I thought the blurb was interesting, but was a little unsure of what would happen from there. What I found was a pleasant surprise.

Twelve-year-old David is fairly believably written for his age, despite the fact that this book isn’t meant for middle grade or ya readers. His relationship with his mother and his reaction to her death tore at my heart. When his father remarries, to a woman with whom he fights all the time, and David gets a new step-brother, the way he deals with it never comes across as trite or overblown, as is sometimes the case with the way younger characters are written.

I’m still not quite sure how David ends up in what I’ll call “fairy tale land” for lack of a better phrase. I honestly can’t remember if it has a name in the book. Anyways, all of the sudden David is popping out a tree knot in a forest and there’s human-wolf hybrids after him. Thank goodness there’s the Woodsman there to save him. The villain of the story, the Crooked Man, hides the tree that has the portal in it from David, however, so he can’t go back, and the Woodsman says that only the dying king of the land can help him get back home now, so they set off on a quest to find the king and get David home.

For a while, it really did seem like the plot was relying on the questing motif way too much. David was on a journey and obstacles popped up around it, but he never really deviated from his goal. Each obstacle was present as unrelated to the other, so at times they felt quite disconnected and in some places unnecessary y. I will say, though, that of all these the Communist seven dwarfs and the fat, mean Snow White were the best part–of the quest and of the entire book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but seriously guys. Just mull that over. Fat and mean Snow White and the Communist Seven Dwarfs.

When David finally reaches the castle and finds the king, however, things really start to get rolling. All of the questions are answered, and more broader ones that make you think are asked. I didn’t think that this was going to tug at my heart strings as much as it did. In the end, I just wanted to hug David and hug the king and … basically hug everyone but the Crooked Man, who I wanted to stab repeatedly for putting the kid through everything. This is a stand alone, so the end wrapped everything up neatly–some might say too much so, but I don’t agree. Usually I like messy endings myself, but it was the epilogue that really did me in so no complaints there.

I’d really recommend this one if you’re looking for a fairy tale that isn’t for children. This really isn’t for people the age of the protagonist, trust me. Its themes and its messages ring much truer to the adult ear, and the prose is meant for that. It was a great bridge for me between the children’s stories I love and the adult novels I should really read more of.

Curious what me and my friends had to say? Want to laugh at the fools that we make of ourselves? Well, watch the video! (The first 9:20 of this is technical difficulties and giggles. For the actual book club part, skip right to about the 9:20 mark.)