Friday, July 26, 2013

eBook Review: Mark of the Mage

Books never die, but they can be forbidden.

Medeisia is a country in turmoil ruled by a blood thirsty king who has outlawed the use of magic and anything pertaining to knowledge. Magery and scribery are forbidden. All who practice are marked with a tattoo branded onto their wrists, their futures precarious.

Sixteen year-old Drastona Consta-Mayria lives secluded, spending her spare time in the Archives of her father's manor surrounded by scribes. She wants nothing more than to become one of them, but when the scribes are royally disbanded, she is thrust into a harsh world where the marked must survive or die.

I admit I downloaded this free for the Kindle so long ago I can't even remember when it happened.  I periodically go through these moments of 'Cool cover! Interesting premise!' while perusing the Kindle freebie lists and will download without too much discernment.  I had put this to the side as a 'well one day I'll read it' and that day had come.  I regret waiting so long!

Drastona, better known as Stone, presents an interesting character.  She wants nothing more then to be left alone with the books and scrolls of her father's Archive.  She doesn't particularly care that her need for that knowledge could be hazardous to her health; she just wants the peace of that life.  Sadly Stone is our heroine of the novel and thus she gets to go through lots of turmoil before finding anything related to peace.

Ryals' writing is, other then my nitpick below, easy to immerse yourself in.  While there is some info-dumping at times, by in large the world has a very organic feel to it.  It helps that technically Stone is learning as we the reader are.  She lived a sheltered life and that doesn't bode well for the life of an outlaw.  The mechanics of the world are pretty simple and if there's a bit of hand-waving at times its negligible in the greater scheme of interesting characters.

A big negative for me involves the fact that Ryals overuses fantasy-ish names/terms throughout the book.  Not for everything or everyone, but enough so that I constantly found myself trying to sound out words.  "Drastona" for instance does not slide off the tongue easily.  Neither does "Medeisia". 

To be blunt I devoured this book quickly and within five chapters was buying the second book (Tempest) because I knew I didn't want to wait.  This is entertaining, with a heroine who puts her money where her mouth is and a cast of secondaries who stand out without being obnoxious.  There's also very little (read none) romance happening.  Stone is too busy fighting the good fight and figuring out where she belongs to be chasing after a guy and what feelings do occur grow out respect.