Rise of the Mages by Scott Drakeford


My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Genre: High Fantasy
Goodreads Link

Please note in an exchange for an honest review, I received an advance reader copy (ARC) from NetGalley.

I liked the cover of this book and the idea of a sibling doing anything they can to save their younger sibling? Sounds like some good family drama to me! I requested the book from ARC and I'm so happy that the publisher accepted my request. Thank you!

For this eBook, I did highlight some notes. Not as much as I hope to do–and usually do for physical books– but at least I did some! Most of them were just blurbs of my feelings or thoughts rather than highlight quotes or scenes that I liked.

What I Loved

  • The magic system with infusori. It was very interesting and I liked how the various forms and uses were sprinkled around the book instead of given us in a big info dump. I appreciated how the author not only introduced it when it come to fights but also as day to day items that more ordinary people would deal with.
  • Worldbuilding. There definitely is a lot of it here if you are into that (as I am!). Culture differences between regions, ideologies, classism– a lot of it was successfully portrayed by Drakeford without it being so obvious. The rich can get the good coils (therefore, the healing), mages are scary to one region but hailed as warriors in another, and so on. Even at the end, you'd be left to wanting more.
  • Rise of the Mages has wonderful and explicit (i.e. gory) fight scenes. If you are squeamish, I would probably skim some of this. Not all were gory but I think a few of them can definitely turn some people off.

What I Disliked

Admittedly, some of the points below contain mild spoilers so read at your own risk.

  • I did not like Emrael, the protagonist we follow throughout the story. Because of that, the score heavily weighs this. I found him very selfish and rash but in his defense, he is twenty to twenty one years old. His goal to save his sibling, Bran, always seemed to outweigh the goals of others and it was nice to see some characters bring this up with him.
  • I'm beyond confused as to why Jaina, a Master of War, and other far more experienced veterans would listen to a twenty year old man who hadn't experienced a war. Without spoiling it, it seemed like they blinded followed him no matter how stupid the plan was. I honestly don't understand how most of these characters came to follow him or become so loyal to him. I don't think name alone would appease so ma1ny and follow so blindly.
  • No interpersonal conflict. This ties in to the two points above. The closest we got is when a particular person challenged Emrael's plan and flatly stated how beyond selfish/shortsighted it is. This did leave to some small bickering with the resolution of the other person leaving but it actually resolved to other person staying and seeing this through despite it challenging his beliefs.
  • The bad guys were one dimensional. Evil for the sake of evil.

Final Thoughts

Drakeford's first entry to his Age of the Ire series will be enjoyed by any who wished to read a story of young man, with unknown potential, and his ragtag group of friends embarking on a quest to save his younger brother. The magic system is interesting and constantly in present in the world built by Drakeford.

Personally, the book's main protagonist irked me. The only other person I felt was fleshed out was Jaina and I actually really did like her. While I enjoyed the world, I only ever was interested in Jaina and another character. And because this book is about Emrael you won't get to know much about them so I'm out of luck.

Would I recommend this? By all means if you are into what I mentioned pick it up. It has the worldbuilding and definitely more of  hack and slash feel rather than a character driven book. As for me, I think I will pass on the sequel but consider Drakeford's future books.

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

A quick little section:

My Favorite Character(s): Jaina and Halrec by far.

Favorite Moment:

  • The countdown when they had the knight of Sarlon's wife's throat. So suspenseful.
  • Conall and Sten's frienship! Love how Sten called out Conall's privilege ass out at the end! While many others told him how easy of an life he had, hearing it from his best friend definitely shut him up.

Random Thoughts

  • When Emrael came up with that plan. I honestly cannot fathom how Dorae, Toravin, Jaina, Sarlon, or any experienced vet could not have come up with it. It irked me so bad to think all these veterans didn't think of it and when he said it, didn't even question except for Halrec.