What do you buy when you have a left over Christmas WHSmith voucher for £20? Oh life's beset with such difficult decisions. Eventually I managed to overcome the agony of choice and with a little assistance for a friend purchased this; the innocent mage. Along with Hush Hush... lets not go there, and Young Bloods, which was rather good but that's for another time.
To begin with; I wasn't overly impressed with the beginning. It took me a couple of goes to really try and get into it; the start is much like the way some films are instigated; by focusing on a tiny detail of interest, and then gradually panning back to establish time and space. The reader here is privy to Asher's mind as he escapes his home to make his fortune in the capitol of a fantasy country named Lur. I must admit however, despite a slow and reader-repelling introduction; the book does pick up the pace.
I cannot fault the characters or indeed the society: there is an intricate web of prejudice, distrust, and even hatred based purely on stereotypes, backgrounds and social standing. Insert a few fantasy additions, such as magic and those worthy of using it; and it's a intriguing lifestyle, very much contrastable with reality. Our hero's, especially Gar, tries to stand tall and proud above and make his contempt for disparity known about the law; whilst Asher's struggle against releasing the tsunami of disgust for aristocratic arrogance is especially interesting to read.
My only criticism is the plot. It's interesting, but it isn't satisfying. It's like reading a soap; lots of drama, most of it personal with the occasional happenings of societal excitement but it all seems to fissile away, back into the normal, everyday lifestyle. In short; nothing nefarious happens until the final 100 pages; and even then it withers in comparison to other fantasy novels. I've noticed a lot of people have given this book on Amazon three, to four stars and I find myself in firm agreement because the plot builds throughout the entire narrative and then ends on a huge anti-climax.
The perfect analogy to summarise this book would be the following joke:
What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor?
Where's my tractor?
Interesting; maybe witty to some (me included, oh dear) but ultimately falls short of what a joke needs to be.