A blight of mages

This Blight of Mages is the fifth book by Karen Miller in the “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” series. (I realise I only reviewed The Prodigal Mage, having no memory whatsoever of the fourth volume, The Reluctant Mage… Either I did not read it or it was truly below my reviewing standards!) While I much preferred The Gospeaker tirlogy for its more involved plot and more imaginative universe, the first two books in the series were enjoyable enough, if light. This one is actually a prequel that explains a lot of the background in the earlier [in print] or later [in time] novels, as the central characters, Barl and Morgan, reappear as legendary figures in those. However, I had forgotten so much about those books that it took me quite a while (and a spoiler on the backcover!) to realise this was the case! Nonetheless, the book reads on its own (as it should, being a prequel!), as demonstrated by my son reading through in a few days. It also suffers from the same defects as the remaining books in the series, namely that the action is very slow, the dialogues are very heavy and repetitive, and the plot is even more predictable than earlier! Without being much of a spoiler (but be warned nonetheless!), given the front and back covers, and even more the contents of the earlier/later novels if you managed to recall their plots to some extent, Barl and Morgan are going to meet and wreck havoc on the local society and on the nature of Doranean magic by attempting prohibited experiments, Barl realising her “mistake” at the end and trying to atone for it, while Morgan turns mad and unstoppable. Several reviewers criticised Miller’s style for being full of clichés and I fear that, for this volume, it is particularly the case… The dialogues are utterly predictable, the characters are mostly caricaturesque, and the unfolding of the story is rather clear from the first dozen pages, except for the last part maybe. (Oh, and by the way, the cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the story!) I am thus quite surprised at the book being ranked highest in the series on Amazon. (Even with one reader being clearly happy at this book being single and not the beginning of another duology!)  And people raving at the author’s “incredible fantasist writing skills”… Conclusion: Not recommended. Even for hardcore fantasy aficionados.

2 Responses to “A blight of mages”

  1. Dan Simpson Says:

    You know, I’ve definitely read the fourth book and I honestly don’t remember what happens. Other than a vague impression that the son turns out to be useless and the daughter rocks. But I may be mixing that up with another series…

    I’ve actually enjoyed reading these books, but it’s fair to say that they take dumb/low-quality fantasy to a whole new level.

    Hope you’re getting better!

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