A conspiracy to eliminate magic threatens all the lands of the west in Part 1 of a sequel series to The Age of Darkness trilogy (Chaosmage, 2016, etc.).
Ten years after the Sorcerer Balfruss defeated the evil mage known as the Warlock and ended a devastating war, most people still fear magic’s destructive power. When a golden-masked Seeker discovers magical ability in a child, many would rather see that child dead rather than whisked off to the mysterious Red Tower to hone their powers. Overt resistance to magic and Seekers is growing, secretly encouraged by anti-magic fanatic Torran Habreel and his network of operatives. Unbeknownst to Habreel, one of those operatives includes a power-hungry goddess exploiting Habreel’s campaign for her own purposes. Meanwhile, a small group of mages and their allies struggle to stem the tide of rising prejudice and hate before it’s too late. The characters—especially a young student mage seeking to understand her place in the world and an ambitious investigator with a dark past—are relatable, and the story moves along at a decent, action-punctuated clip. However, readers who look to fantasy for escapism probably won’t find it here: our news feeds are already full of zealous, furious mobs who hate those they perceive as different, their bigotry stoked by the powermongers who seek to profit from it. Those who enjoy exploring current social ills through a fantastic lens might find this book of interest if they accept the not-so-subtextual association of magical gifts with homosexuality—magical kids are “born that way,” but Habreel suggests that Seekers are actually making kids magical instead of simply sensing the magic within them, similar to the way homophobes believe adult gay people indoctrinate children into their “lifestyle.” At one point, the author even uses the phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell,” albeit in a different context. But this association isn’t particularly fresh, either, having been amply explored by the X-Men comics for decades.
Solid, if unexceptional.