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A Blight of Mages (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker) Paperback – 3 May 2012
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A writer who seems to set the rule for the genre (WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY)
Top-notch fantasy . . . a masterclass writer (SFFWORLD)
A BLIGHT OF MAGES is an intoxicating and heart-wrenching story depicting two young people torn by desire and ability. In a world that is as appealing as it is imaginable, Miller uses great pathos to portray their plight, and the more I read, the more I needed to read to find out whether their mastery would be their undoing (BritishFantasySociety.co.uk)
Miller does a wonderful job ... A Blight of Mages is vast in scope, and filled with memorable characters (SciFiGuysBookReview)
Fast-paced and loaded with action ... Karen Miller affirms her incredible fantasist writing skills with an exciting tale (Alternative-Worlds.com)
From the bestselling Karen Miller comes a compelling fantasy novel set in the world before The Innocent Mage - the age before the great Mage War . . .See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
This, the latest tale by Karen Miller, explores prehistory and whilst a certain amount of the heart in mouth moments are not as scary as they could have been (as we know who survives) the overall effect was a title that took great pleasure in the exploration of a time of interest.
All in it's a fun book and if you haven't read any of her work before this is where I'd suggest you start the Mage titles, purely for the fact that when you deal with things linearly in the timeline rather than publication wise, the twists and turns will have more effect and generate the magic that a real piece of well written escapism can do for a reader. Magic lives...
The plot of ‘A Blight of Mages’ is simple to follow, taking place hundreds of years before eth great Mage war, and centers mostly on Barl and Morgan throughout its length. Barl, young and impulsive, wants to access magical education, but lacks the ‘purity’ of blood to access it. Morgan – a member of the Council of Mages – is intrigued by her power, and after some turns of fate ends up working with her. Combining his ambition and her power to create extraordinary new incantations that will, unknown to Barl, let loose a darkness hard to control. As such, the book tells the story of how Morgan, a great Doranan mage, became Morg, and how Barl, his lover, was to lead their people over the mountains to the county of Lur to escape Morg’s evil magic.
Now, I picked up this book without really paying attention to the plot, having read the Kingmaker books a while back, and purely looking for something different to read within the fantasy genre that was more magic-heavy. I enjoy giving books a try every now and again without paying too much attention to summaries and reviews and ignoring my first reaction to it. Sometimes it pays off, and I can find something utterly underrated.
Was this one of those times? Definitely not. If I had to choose a word to describe the entirety of ‘A Blight of Mages’ it’d definitely be ‘dissapointing’.
The plot is easy to follow: in a land where almost everyone can use magic there is a caste system set up that restricts the access to it. An unranked person doesn’t like this and fights against it. Somewhere along the pages of the book a romance sprouts, previously unseen magic is created, and a villain appears out of somewhere.
Though my issue isn’t with the plot in of itself. Though this line of plot is hardly new or adventurous there are many works out there following it which truly work and are amazing reads. Instead my issue with the plot was that after the initial pull of the book it really had nothing to offer, make it stand out, or be remotely entertaining. The plot and characters seemed one-dimensional and entirely clichéd, with unsophisticated and simplistic arguments against the caste system and the privileges of the wealthy. The dialogue, disappointing at best and lacking the interest than the dialogue in books such as ‘The Blade Itself’ enjoys. It seemed incapable of being interesting and distinguish between different speakers, and didn’t manage to advance the plot or story in any way. This goes without mentioning the attempt at ‘high speech’ in this book, an entirely different thing which was equally disappointing. The magic, did however succeed in being of some interest. Sadly hardly enough to be able to balance out the other elements of the book.
Then, there is the issue of pacing and development of the plot itself in the book. The first 1/3 of it seems devoted to the relationship between Morgan and Barl. Which, though I enjoyed as a romantic plot in itself hardly saw any kind of development of any kind as to the main plot. Then, suddenly and towards the second half of the book, the relationship falls apart and in five pages of italics a year-long exodus of 100,000 people and many of their deaths is added. Then, as abruptly as this appeared, a brand new character and POV is introduced alongside another argument. All of this without any kind of suitable development in the first parts of the books and zero sophistication.
‘Disappointing’ really stays short when referring to how the plot of this book felt like when reading it. Cliché romance stories have a place in the genre, that is true, and for a specific type of audience. But when they are included within something purporting to have a complex fantasy world that fails utterly and completely in this task, it is another story.
‘A Blight of Mages’ has zero political intrigue and no complexity to its society at all. It feels utterly ordinary, and a waste of good reading time in comparison to how other books of the same genre and similar plots are. A shame, since at the very beginning it honestly felt like it could be a great book to read, but it all falls apart as quickly as the main city where the story takes place. The dialogue is boring and uncreative, and skipping at times didn’t equal any lost information. As such, I can’t say I recommend neither reading nor buying this book (unless one wants to read a book such as this intentionally). There are much better books out in the market to read and purchase, and much better stories and worlds to get to know.
The book started and ended well, however there was pacing issues in the middle of the book. I could not motivate myself to read, and I went from caring about the characters and their desires to thinking that they were annoying and arrogant; its no wonder the Guild turned against them.
Yet it is this arrogance which make Barl and Morgan and which pushes the story forward. Both are trapped by the strict social hierarchy of Doranen – ranked vs. unranked – with has nothing to do with the level of power each individual holds.
Barl is a unranked magician with power that surpasses many of her superiors. When we first meet her is arrogant, selfish and convinced of her own superiority, her one redeeming feature is the love she feels for her brother, Remmie. Nevertheless there are times where she allows her selfishness to hurt him. However towards the end of the book when Barl realised the damage done through her arrogance she is humbled and willing to help the people of Doranen.
Morgan, on the other hand, is a ranked powerful magician, who has secured a sit on the Council of Mages. He too is frustrated that his superior talents go largely unrecognised.
When Barl and Morgan mean they are two kindred spirits. Love (or lust) is what brings them together but it is their ability to create new magework that binds them together.
Overall this was an enjoyable book and the books succeeded in persuading me to read. Anyone who has read Miller’s other work will enjoy this book.
I fell in love with the world Karen Miller created in The Innocent Mage, and read the other books in her series avidly. A Blight of Mages was no exception. Set before the time of The Innocent Mage, it explores the relationship with Barl and Morgan and how Lur came to be in the later books.
It was a little slow at first, but the relationship between Barl and Morgan soon built up. Sometimes it felt a little rushed, and other time it felt too drawn out. But never the less, A Bight of Mages is a stunning book.
I would advice people to read the books in order of publication, so you can fully appreciate A Blight of Mages and all it's detail.
One of the best books i've read this year.
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