Book Review – The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The blurb papers:

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

This book retains the major positive point of the first one (the main character is still a self-rescuing woman), although the novelty’s worn off of the magic system and it still has oddly unpronounceable character names.

This book was an improvement over the first one in that it wasn’t mostly composed of flashbacks, but I still didn’t like it as much as the first one.

The cool twist at the end of the first book is not explained and that plotline is not really progressed at all.

What I really didn’t like was how much time the main character spent with romance-esque wondering about whether the other main character loved her.  That relationship also seems very inappropriate to me considering he’s her teacher.

I think the magic system was let down a bit by this book, or at least it’s flaws were revealed more.  Although the magic seems to be elemental (linked strongly to some material) it seems to be easily manipulated by simple words.  This doesn’t seem logical because words are just ideas thought up by people, rather than something fundamental that an element would be affected by.

Something that not many people would notice but that bugged me was that they used 8.5″ x 11″ paper in England.  Since 1959 the UK has used ISO standard paper sizes, and apparently before that paper sizes did not fit into a formal system – only North America uses 8.5″ x 11″.

Book Review – The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

The blurb drafts:

As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find the only man who can still end a civil war before it engulfs the known world. But Gavin Guile has been captured by an old enemy and enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse still, Gavin has lost more than his powers as Prism–he can’t use magic at all.

Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will face a master of shadows as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins called The Broken Eye.

The first book in the series started with a hugely unlikely coincidence which made me not like it very much, and the worldbuilding felt sort of forced.  The writing got better as the book went on and then at the end of the book there was a dramatic twist which seemed to lay out the direction the series was going in.  Something that really annoyed me in the first book was the character’s attitudes toward slavery.

The second book was better – there were no unlikely coincidences, all aspects of the book gained depth and although it seemed under-dramatic it was pretty impressive how the author abruptly changed the direction of the series.  One of the characters introduced in this book was a slave, so the author’s portrayal could have improved but for whatever reason it didn’t seem to make much difference.

Which brings us to this book.  I had assumed that this would be the last book in the series because so many series are trilogies, but apparently this one isn’t.  Frankly, considering how good this book was, I have only positive feelings about this.

In this book it feels like the author has changed which characters are the main characters.  I don’t have page counts of each character’s chapters, but it seemed like some major changes were made to the hierarchy.  I don’t know if this was because the author felt that those characters were more interesting or whether it was a plot driven decision, but I think it worked out pretty well.

One of the characters that has taken a more prominent role in this book is Teia (the slave).  I really expected this to have more of an effect on the author’s portrayal of slavery, but I don’t think it really has.  Having said that, the fact that Gavin Guile starts the book off as a galley slave gives the author more opportunity to comment on it and have Gavin rethink his opinion on the matter.  In spite of all this I don’t think the story has really arrived at a proper condemnation of slavery, but I now believe that by the end of the series it will.  This paints my original impression of the story’s treatment of slavery in a new light, as it would mean that it’s showing the characters’ slow realization of the problems in their society, which (if true) would be pretty impressive.

I think it’s interesting that the Big Bad in this series is almost entirely off-screen – it gives a sense of impending doom (or at least impending drama).

Another interesting thing that I liked was the revelation that the world, history and magic system in the series’ world is more complex than originally explained.  I also liked that in many cases we only find this out as the characters do, which makes it feel as if we’re working with the characters instead of being spoon fed information by the author.  It also makes the next book unpredictable because the rules are changing, so what it would mean for the protagonists to win or lose could be different than we currently expect.