(ERRATA - This was incorrectly labelled as a A Mage's Tale at first. I have corrected this mistake in this blog.)
Brian Wilkerson has been a HUGE supporter of my work for a while, having given me two great reviews on both Trapped on Draconica and Legacy of the Dragonkin – and even created a TV Tropes page for both of them. To return the favour, I offered to give him a review of his novel, A Mage’s Power. It took a little while, mainly due to IRL commitments and other things, but luckily I finished the book – and enjoyed it!
Now, Brian was kind to give a considerate and well thought out, critical review of my work so I’m going to try and give him the same courtesy by giving him a review that I think this book deserves. So sit back and read as we enter the world of A Mage’s Power.
About The Author
I didn’t get a bio about the author per say, but you can check out his blog (and his writing/reviews) at the following links and purchase his book via Amazon.
It's a nice, colourful (if maybe a little dark) cover. It’s certainly eye catching, which is a good thing. Looking at it, you may be expecting to be prepared to read a traditional Epic Fantasy – but you may be pleasantly surprised.
On a side note, it also has a map inside of the world, drawn by my friend Brenna Albert. Great to know that she’s getting more work!
So the plot of A Mage's Power involves a young man named Eric, a down-on-his-luck loser that just sucks at life and everything goes wrong for him. His life takes an “interesting” turn when he’s met by Tasio – a Trickster from the Fantasy world of Tariatla (think of him as the equivalent of Loki from Norse Mythology – or even the Thor comics). Deciding to take it upon himself to “help” Eric, he sends him to the world of Tariatla.
Now, the first thing that struck me is that the world of Tariatla is as somewhat “deconstructed” (as Brian says on his blog) world. As well as having traditional Fantasy elements like magic, monsters, elves, orcs, etc – there are also real world elements, like a job centre, diners, television, even an X-Factor type reality show for wizards! It kind of feels like Earth if it suddenly got invaded by Fantasy monsters. Now, the idea of combining Fantasy with real world is an idea that has been done and in this book it mainly works. But sometimes, the ideas seem to clash with each other and it’s almost like it can’t make up its mind as to whether the world wants to be Fantasy or not. For the most part it works, but there are times when it felt like the suspension of disbelief was stretched.
Trapped in this strange world, Eric tries to adapt to his new surroundings and eventually gets recruited into the Dragon’s Lair as a mercenary, learning to use magic and make money. His team consists of Nolien (who’s like the resident bookworm and slightly socially awkward member) and Tiza (the tough, take no prisoners kick ass chick). For the most part, I actually quite liked them – even though I wanted to slap Tiza in a few places! But Balisard, their leader, I thought was pretty awesome. He kinda reminded me of Master Splinter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, albeit with a bit more attitude and wit.
The crux of the story involved Eric and his mercenary group going on missions to collect money, learning teamwork along the way. It’s the same sort of theme that we’ve seen in shows like Naruto and the like, but it works well. In actual fact, there isn’t really one set plot – but a number of stories. The book actually reads like a cartoon series on Toonami (which Brian admits on his blog that the shows he watches are a major influence), with each part of the book feeling like another episode in the series, or maybe a better example would be like an RPG game and every part of the book is another quest they must complete. The problem with this is that sometimes the story feels a little undirected and at times doesn’t know in what direction to go in. At other times, the story just seems to shift from one action to the next without any natural progression – which can be a little jarring at times.
Luckily, all these threads do come together in the end – but I won’t give any spoilers. The final scene with the villain is a little “James Bond” like, where the villain gives away his master plan, but I won’t be too hard on this as it does explain what could have potentially been some holes in the plot. But I do have to the honest, the ending I felt was like a slap in the face after everything Eric went through.
With all the above being said, I will say that this is certainly a fresh new look on the Fantasy genre and gives it a whole new look. It takes elements from other Fantasy stories and tries to do something different with them – so you don’t feel like you’re reading the same story over and over again. And it is well written, with plenty of humour and action to keep the reader interested. There were a few typos in my copy, but I’ve heard that has since been corrected so I won’t give too much of a hard time on this one.
PROS (magically amazing):
- World is unique and has some interesting takes on the Fantasy genre.
- Feels like reading a cartoon series.
- A lot of humour and fun to be had here.
CONS (tricked you!):
- The “Real-world” Fantasy land occasionally feels a little bit out of place in some parts.
- Story a little undirected in places.
A Mage's Power is a book that you will need to really give a chance. It takes time to get going, and you will need to have an open mind with the Fantasy world it’s set in – but if you settle into it, I think you’ll find an exciting Fantasy adventure that’s just waiting to be read. I’ll definitely be waiting to read any other books in this series when they come out.
FINAL SCORE: 4/5