Monthly Archives: September 2009

Review: The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller

Book review of Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage

the-innocent-mage

I really didn’t know what to expect leading up to reading The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller.  I’d seen some recent publicity for The Prodigal Mage, and it seemed to be making a bit more noise than the first two Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books.  I admittedly picked up the book on a whim, perusing the options at my local bookstore, and honestly chose the book by its cover.  Probably the last time I’ll ever make that mistake.  The Innocent Mage is as bland as a stale unsalted Saltine.  I knew I was in trouble by the fifth sentence, which is usually the kiss of literary death:

Holding his breath, he slid out of his old, creaking bed and put his bare feet on the floor as lightly as the rising sun kissed the mouth of Restharven Harbor.

I don’t know about you, but I like my analogy to reference something that I’m familiar with, giving me a more clear picture of the idea the author is attempting to paint.  Comparing the stealth with which a character leaves his bed with the mouth of a fictional body of water that hasn’t been described yet not only doesn’t improve my understanding, it actually makes it less clear.  This is one example of the vast quantity of paper-thin attempts at quality writing in The Innocent Mage.

After about 50 pages or so of non-plot advancing description, dry dialog, and a general feeling that you want to go hang yourself, we’re presented with this gem:

I am Jervale’s Heir and I know. Asher is the Innocent Mage. The Final Days are coming. And I am the last living of Jervale’s descendants, born to guide our ignorant fisherman to victory…or fail, and doom our world to death and despair.

What’s that?  You just threw up?  That’s funny, I regurgitated a bit in my mouth the first time I read this too.  Not only is it the same old story of good versus evil with the actions of the main character effecting the entire world, it is simply unreadable!  This is dialog at its worst.  People just don’t talk like this, it doesn’t feel natural, and it leads to rereading sections of a book that probably aren’t worth reading the first time.

Warning: spoilers to follow.  Then again, it probably doesn’t matter since after this review you likely won’t be rushing out to pick up The Innocent Mage any time soon.

Just as Miller feels like she’s going to take the opportunity to advance the plot, or do something exciting with the characters, you find yourself slogging through an entire chapter of the characters crying over miniscule issues from previous chapters.  There’s a beheading scene that makes the main character Asher queasy, and he whines about it for chapter upon chapter to follow.  I compared this with the beheading from A Game of Thrones, seen randomly from the distance by the eyes of the daughter of the man being beheaded.  Quick, meaningful, powerful, and classic.  None of these qualities exist in Miller’s The Innocent Mage.

The rest of this 600+ page novel continues in the same dull fashion, with one of the high points coming when the all-powerful evil being takes over the body of the king’s mage.  Unfortunately, this also is handled terribly.  The narration switches to the viewpoint of the omniscient evil being.  I don’t know about you, but my familiarity with the point of view of an omniscient being is pretty scarce.  The way to play this would have been to have the evil being take over the mage, but view the oddities and transformation from the outside, rather than trying to give the reader an insight into the mind of an omniscient character, and failing miserably.

The novel concludes without resolving anything, and the author throws most of her main characters off a cliff.  I’d recommend that if you come across a copy of The Innocent Mage, you do the same.

Its safe to say I’ll be avoiding anything by Karen Miller for the foreseeable future.  I’m giving it two stars: one for the decent jousting scene about halfway through, and one for any aspiring author who wants to pick up a novel chock full of examples of what not to do.

Take your chances with The Innocent Mage over at Amazon.com.

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 2 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Karen Miller, Reviews | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Fantasy Blogosphere: September 27, 2009

The fantasy blogosphere is buzzing this week, with quality review after review, including books by Ken Scholes, Brandon Sanderson, Lev Grossman and more.  This should give you plenty to do while you’re parked in front of the TV watching race for October baseball or week three NFL action.

And last but not least, I think its safe to call me a “Guildy” at this point.

The Guild: Season 3, Episode 4

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, September 26, 2009

According to Jane makes its debut at number one, while Full Moon Rising slides to number four after two weeks at the top.  The Time Traveler’s Wife finds itself in the top five for the tenth straight week.

  1. According To Jane by Marilyn Brant
  2. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  3. A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
  4. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
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Fantasy Blogosphere: September 20, 2009

Wow, the DragonCon hangover must have been a ripe one. The fantasy blogosphere has been fairly calm this past week, with only two reviews and some commentary worth noting:

I’m about to start Mistborn, so I’m saving the above review for after I finished.  Its supposedly fantastic.

Luckily, in this lull, we’ve got three new webisodes of The Guild to pass the time.  Yee-haw!

The Guild: Season 3, Episode 1

The Guild: Season 3, Episode 2

The Guild: Season 3, Episode 3

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, September 19, 2009

Full Moon Rising holds strong in the number one slot, while An Echo in the Bone, the seventh entry in the Outlander series, makes an entrance at the number two slot. The Time Traveler’s Wife gets bumped out of the number two slot all the way down to number five.

  1. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
  2. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Sookie Stackhouse, Books 1-7 by Charlaine Harris
  4. A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Categories: Bestsellers, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy Blogosphere: September 13, 2009

We’ve got boatloads of fun this week, from reviews of books by Brandon Sanderson, Daniel Abraham, and Mercedes Lackey, to a chat with David Anthony Durham.  Tack on the top 25 Babes of DragonCon and a revolution in online gaming, and you’re going to be a busy bee this week.

Fun Corner

So Warcraft and Warhammer just found themselves some serious new competition.  Dungeons & Dragons Online is now free:

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, September 12, 2009

Cayla Kluver’s novel had a short run at the top, dropping completely off the top 5 list after only one week. Also dropping this week is Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice. The Briar King jumps back into the top five, filling in the fifth spot.

  1. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
  2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. Sookie Stackhouse, Books 1-7 by Charlaine Harris
  4. A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
  5. The Briar King by Greg Keyes
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Fantasy Blogosphere: September 6, 2009

From Sanderson to Jordan to Hobb, we’ve got a few interesting reviews this week.  The review of The Dragon Keeper over at Elitist is particularly harsh.  I’m going to have to read this book to form my own opinion, because after just reading Ship of Magic, its hard to believe that Hobb could swing so far from one extreme to the other.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, September 5, 2009

We’ve got two new entries this week, the first being a debut from sixteen year old author Cayla Kluver.  The second, Full Moon Rising, is yet another vampire/werewolf book making its way into the top five.

  1. Legacy by Cayla Kluver
  2. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  4. Sookie Stackhouse, Books 1-7 by Charlaine Harris
  5. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
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