Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Innocent Mage - Two Minute Review

It's been a wee while since the last one, so here's another two minute review.

Before we get going though, I should point out that I'm a little bit sexist, but only in a very limited way.  For the record, I've never discriminated against a woman at work, nor do I think someone's ability to do something is affected by their gender. . .  With two exceptions; fiction author and stand-up comedian.  The Mrs pointed both of these out to me when I refused to read a Maria Snyder book (because it was too "wooly") and when I switched the tv off when Shappi Khorsandi was on.  In my defence, we watched the comedy show (it was alright) and I read the Snyder book (better than I thought,) nor can I adequately explain why I instinctively avoid female fiction; Alison Weir is a favourite writer, but she's a historian.

As a result of this (and the subsequent nagging I got from the Mrs) I've read more female authors than previously, Kristin Cashore and Gail Martin being two that I've particularly enjoyed.  Still struggle with female comedians though.
So it was against this backdrop that I picked up The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller.  I was havering between this and the new Brent Weeks book, but went with this because, you know, trying not to be sexist.  The Innocent Mage is primarily the story of Asher, a young fisherman who goes off to make his fortune in the big city.  The city Dorana is in the kingdom of Lur, occupied by two different peoples, the Olken and the Doranen.  Asher arrives in the city and picks up a job and . . . that's pretty much it.

What made the book enjoyable to me was the decent range of characters and the skillfully written dialogue (and there's a lot of it.)  There's an interesting tension on offer between the two groups of people, with one being the ruling class, but it isn't overdone, just nicely there in the background. There's also a decent supporting cast offsetting the main characters, although not developed as far as some other writers do, Miller has done well populating her fictional land.

You can tell that it's a début novel however; the pacing is waaay off, with the book gradually drawing you in and then abruptly hurrying you to a finish.  There are other issues as well, notably the perspective bizarrely starts jumping round to multiple different people, when it's been exclusively two characters for the first three quarters.  Lastly, there's the plot itself which, magic and prophesy mumbo-jumbo aside, it's the story of an individual pursuing a sensible and efficient career in the public sector!

So excellent dialogue, interesting premise and some wonderful scenes, The Innocent Mage is easily worth a read.  FYI, if you end up getting the same edition I did, don't flick through to the author bio, it's on the same page as the preview to the sequel with a fairly big spoiler in the first line! Enjoy.


  1. The 2nd book, Awakened Mage, was definitely better than the first, and the next two (set several years later) are better still.

    If you like these books, I'd also recommend Trudi Canavan.

    1. Ah, haven't gotten the next book yet, but that's good to know.

      The Mrs has read a few Canavan books, I will get round to her.