Monday, 13 August 2007

‘The Innocent Mage’ – Karen Miller (Orbit Books)


It seems that everywhere you look these days there is an Australian sci-fi/fantasy author with a book for you to read. Let me say right now that this is not a bad thing! Glenda Larke’s ‘Heart of the Mirage’ was pretty good and I really enjoyed Fiona McIntosh’s ‘Odalisque’. Right now, the jury is still out on Trudi Canavan (although I’ve still to read her ‘Age of the Five’ books). I just finished reading Karen Miller’s ‘The Innocent Mage’ and I think she could be the best of the bunch.
Asher is a fisherman with dreams of finding his fortune in the magical city of Dorana. However, it isn’t so much fortune but destiny that awaits him…
Stop! Don’t go! This may sound like your regular run-of-the-mill fantasy novel (and it is to an extent) but stick around for a little longer and you may be pleasantly surprised.
What Miller’s tale perhaps lacks in originality is more than made up for by the freshness of it’s characters and the attention paid to the world building. By the time you have finished reading you will feel like you have known Asher, Gar and the rest of the characters all your life. Asher’s character, in particular, is difficult to get to grips with (at first) as he speaks and thinks in a thick ‘countrified’ accent that will have you re-reading certain passages in order to get their meaning. Once you get used to this though, you will enjoy being privy to the thoughts of a fisherman who is more intelligent than the nobility he works for. The issue of prophecy, in fantasy novels, can be a tiresome cliché but Miller appears to successfully side-step this by concentrating on the effects the prophecy has on those who must make sure that it comes to pass. Dathne’s character initially comes across as a shrewish woman but once you understand what she has to deal with then you will feel for her.
I did feel that the magic system wasn’t really explained fully and I’m hoping this will be resolved in the next book. How does the use of weather magic help to maintain the wall and why aren’t the Olken folk allowed to practice their own magic?
The story itself is told in a deceptively simple style that makes it easy for you to get into the book and then to just keep reading until you’re done. I polished this one off in a weekend and I’m keen to see what happens next.
Like I said, ‘The Innocent Mage’ isn’t the most original work of fantasy that you’ll ever read but after you’re done you will have enjoyed it too much to care. An assured debut which promises good things to come.

Eight out of Ten

11 comments:

Chris, The Book Swede said...

I'm glad you liked it :) I'm always relieved when you, or someone else I trust with book reviews, agrees with my own review!

Cheers Graeme.

I've finally cleared my backlog and just posted a review after a four day deadspace...eek! I hate not posting regularly.

Aidan said...

I've got an advance copy of this laying beside my bed at the moment. Looking at the reviews posted by you and Chris... I might just have to give it a shot!

~Aidan
A Dribble of Ink

Graeme Flory said...

It's a really engaging read that (although not without flaws)will keep you reading.
Aidan - I reckon you'll enjoy it, it's got the same easy going style as Terry Brooks.

Tia Nevitt said...

Another one for my debut calendar. Thanks!

Eli said...

I liked the book, but was a little annoyed at the clunkiness and abruptness of the cliffhanger ending. I was also annoyed at the 15 or so proofreading errors in the first hundred pages. Still I liked the characters (well the Olken and Gar) and I felt sympathy for the Royals and Durm. Well done. I went to Miller's page and it says that "Innocence Lost" is the second book, but my copy said that the Awakening Mage was next. Is this a trannslated for americans thing?

Coojofresh said...

i would have to agree, i like the book, but i do have problems with it. it keeps you reading, but in my opinion needs to just be one huge $14.00 book. the first book in totally necessary and totally not necessary all it the same. it is necessary to build the characters and story line, but is not necessary in the fact that nothing really happens. it sets everything up for The Awakened Mage. So not trying to fill this post up with negatives, the book is still good, bu not if you want a bunch of action and such.

Coojofresh said...

and so i have been done with the second book and regret that it is finished, but alas every hero must die(not saying the hero dies in the book, but it's just a metaphor). it was a really good two books, although i stand beside my first post of it should have just been a long book. why are people so scared to read a long book, or watch a long movie? who knows, but that's neither here nor there. my opinion was that this was a good follow up to the first book. everything went as planned, i did find myself reading late to finish the book fast because i knew how it was going to conclude. i still enjoyed the book though. 8.0 out of 10.0 for me!

Richard said...

i just picked the book up myself and have to say i like it thus far

moses small said...

kk i was gonna buy it it sounds pretty good to me.

Kdubbs said...

I was really not all that impressed with the set. I felt run in silly circles thru the whole thing. Nothing ever really happens. For a story that takes place in one small location, you would think there would be more action. The characters hold true to self through out the story, but i felt their cores were kinda shaky to begin with. I did however enjoy the dialect. Very FireFly. It was something i was unsure of at first, but grew on my fast. I wouldn't recommend these books, But i wouldn't stop someone from reading them either.

Joan said...

I read the Innocent Mage by chance (my brother bought it and never finished it. I thought I should give it a try) and I was so impressed with Miller's worldbuilding and the characters, the politics (made more interesting than ever before) and everything!
Possibly my favourite character was Gar. He is endearing, smart and loyal. The depth of his jealousy and bitterness towards his sister also makes him real (Fane is truly a b*tch. No chance for redemption either)
I loved The Innocent Mage and I can't wait to get my hands on The Awakened Mage.