Friday, January 31, 2014

The Awakened Mage

The Awakened Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, #2)The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

With his entire family dead, magic-less Prince Gar must assume his role as weather worker of Lur, unaware of the coming storm and the man destined to stop it: his best friend, the lowly fisherman Asher.

Three words from this fan of epic fantasy: too damn slow. The mourning for the dead king, queen, and bratty Princess Fayne takes up a full third of the story, contraposed with the evil magician Morg's struggle for life inside of a broken body.

More interestingly, there is also a growing romance between Asher and Daphne, all the while the secret of the prophecy standing between them. And Asher and Gar continue to seal their fate together, taking steps that progressively lead to the breach of the kingdom's number one rule: Olken don't do magic.

When Asher at last learns of his destiny as the Innocent Mage, he is annoyingly pouty about it. It's that whole "You lied (for good reason) and now our love means nothing!" cliche that I hope never to see again. It's too bad to see an interesting main character blank out at the eleventh hour, which may be why he is given so little time to step up as the Awakened Mage.

This is the conclusion of two books that might have been better served as one, with some judicious pruning. Perhaps it simply isn't my cup of tea, since it's a character-focused fantasy that is light on the action and world-building. We do get to understand more of Doranen history, and more about the Wall, but the system of magic is pretty bland and unoriginal (especially compared to recent books like Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy). The story of Barl and Morg seems more interesting than the aftermath of their doomed love, and is told in the prequel A Blight of Mages.

There are plenty of books out there with hooded mages on the front, but let me help you cut through the fantasy dross to get to the best: try Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind and (a series that admittedly needs no recommendation), A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.

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