Initial Rating: Highly Recommended (How I Rate Books)
Genres: Fantasy, YA, High Fantasy, LitRPG, Epic(ish) Fantasy
Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:
Here’s the TL;DR for my review (SPOILERS!):
- Character development. Watching characters more or less literally ‘levelling up’ was cool
- Magic. Watching the characters combine their weirdo powers together in order to overcome obstacles is cool
- The setting is great, in a Malazan-ish sort of way. It’s huge, it’s complex, there are a ton of factions, gods, magics, and nations. On one hand I like the diversity as it made it seem like a living, breathing world. On the other hand it can be overwhelming who is doing what and from where.
- At times (in fact most of the time) the author goes WAY WAY WAY in depth into his ENORMOUS magic system. While I found it fun, I can easily understand someone who thought it was too much.
- The spy plot was cool, but at times it didn’t feel ‘crunchy’ enough. Not enough substance and stakes.
- Slow-ish start. The first 1/3 of the book was a bit forgettable.
Book 2 in this series, this is a fun story with good plot and nice characters.
Corin is the painfully introverted main character, who is surprisingly charismatic despite his unsociability. Corin lived his entire life in the shadow of his older brother, but after his older brother Tristan’s ‘death’ things have gotten worse. His father expects Corin to replace the golden child Tristan, forcing him to become a skilled magical duelist. But when the time comes for Corin to go to magic school, Corin is given the ‘useless’ ability to create enchanted magical objects instead of being given fighting magic. This enrages his father, and emotionally maims Corin himself.
The end of his first year at school has come, and Corin’s discovered that his brother has survived his faked death. Corin wants to save his brother… only he doesn’t know if he can trust his brother. His brother has become enmeshed with some dangerous people- and it’s widely believed that Tristan is partly responsible for the disappearance of a god.
Characters: This is very much so the second book in a series. It should be read after the first. The characters introduced in book 1 are very well developed in here. They might not be the best characters of all time, but they aren’t bland. I liked them. The audiobook narrator does a good job to add some life to them. I liked the added new characters- Sheradyn in particular was a lark to be around.
Plot: Good-to-Great. The author did a good job of keeping me guessing. This is a sorta-spy novel, where secrets are being kept and the main character doesn’t know who he can trust. It could have had higher stakes and more try-fail cycles, though.
Pacing: Here’s where I had my biggest problems. It wasn’t bad by any means, it’s just that I got a little bored in the first 1/3 at points, and at other points the author went a little overboard on the magic system worldbuilding. The author usually did a good job of paying off the magic system worldbuilding, but there was still A LOT of it. Overall I think it was average pacing.
Execution: The author took the original concept of ‘Dungeon Crawler-Magic School’ and took it in a slightly more serious direction. I liked it.
Not the best book I’ve ever read, but reading this just felt fun. Do you like fun? Are you a video game nerd? Give this a whirl. Start with book 1.