Book name: The Innocent Mage
Author: Karen Miller
Format: Print, ebook
Genre: Epic fantasy
Publication Date: 2011
Star Rating: 5/5
I love fantasy, but I don’t like that so much of our favourite genre contains only exalted figures with no real representation of working people.
They just seem so limited in their worldview, somehow.
So, when I saw from the blurb that The Innocent Mage centred around a fisherman’s son who heads off to the big city to make good, I was quickly drawn in.
The Innocent Mage is Book One in the Kingmaker Kingbreaker series. The sequel is The Awakened Mage.
Asher’s mother died years back and his brothers use him as nothing more than a punchbag, so he hatches a secret plan to spend his slender savings on a trip to the capital Dorana.
Asher intends to leave his home of Restharven behind for one year, returning once he’s made enough to buy a decent fishing boat of his own and to look after his father.
Little does Asher know that in the capital Dathne, a bookseller, and Matt, the head groom of the royal stables, already know of his coming.
Asher is the innocent mage. He is prophesied to be the saviour who will come when the end of the world is near.
Dathne is Jervale’s Heir, keeping the prophecy a secret until the innocent mage arrives. She has seen Asher’s face since she was a child. From her dreams she knows that he has left Restharven and is making for the capital.
Through Dathne’s intervention Asher meets Gar, the king’s son, and is given a job in the stables. Matt also knows exactly who he is. Thus, a part of the prophecy is fulfilled.
Asher does well enough for the next step in the prophecy to come to pass: he enters the house of the usurper and becomes Gar’s assistant.
Prince Gar is cursed by being the only Doranen without magical abilities. Thankfully, his younger sister Fane is ready to follow their father as WeatherWorker.
This involves controlling the weather to create a temperate environment. However, the physical toll is a terrible one.
More than a year passes and Asher makes himself indispensable to the royal family. From the point of view of the prophecy, so far so good.
However, everything changes when Gar is sent on a tour of the fishing villages to sing with villagers and bless their sea harvest for another year.
During the trip away, a terrible storm destroys the area and also wreaks havoc on the capital. The king’s health is weakened by a fever and he is no longer able to control the weather effectively.
The irony of Asher’s being unaware of his role as the innocent mage greatly strengthened the drama. There was a total focus on magic as the fantasy element in the story.
The Innocent Mage wasn’t an epic-fantasy novel of pitched battles, and there were times when I missed the drama of an all-in battle. The plot moved slowly even this was a long novel, with lots of the attention on the worldbuilding detail and the relationships between the royal family and their court.
However, there is plenty of tension within the family, within different factions at court and between Asher (unaware of his destiny) and Dathne.
The strength of The Innocent Mage lay in its inclusion of people from varying social backgrounds. This was very vivid, especially the dialogue.
Asher power comes as much from his abilities to read people as from his role in fulfilling the prophecy.
He prospers through talent and hard work, and doesn’t lose sight of himself. He always intends to return home to buy a fishing boat and take care of his father.
The ending was particularly dramatic, setting up the sequel nicely.
I loved the strong writing style and the personality of the hero. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
Thank you for reading my review.
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested reading in my review of Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri.
Or you might like to take a look at my review of Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh.
If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Psycho by Robert Bloch.