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Minor Mage

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,723 ratings  ·  351 reviews
Oliver was a very minor mage. His familiar reminded him of this several times a day.

He only knew three spells, and one of them was to control his allergy to armadillo dander. His attempts to summon elementals resulted in nosebleeds, and there is nothing more embarrassing than having your elemental leave the circle to get you a tissue, pat you comfortingly, and then disappe
Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published July 30th 2019 by Red Wombat Studio
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Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,723 ratings  ·  351 reviews

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Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
You didn’t need to be a wizard to realize that if the rains didn’t come, it was going to get very bad in the village. But you also definitely didn’t need to be a wizard to know that Oliver’s mom was not going to let her twelve-year-old son hare off to the distant Rainblade Mountains.

Oliver, who is twelve, and a very minor mage, along with his familiar, an armadillo, are on a mission to bring rain back to his village. They were going anyway, but the villagers ended up kind of encouraging them whe
Lois Bujold
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: younger readers, and, er, older readers like me
Recommended to Lois by: random internet review
Enjoyed this one too. I have no idea why editors didn't think it could be published as a children's book. 12-year-old hero, check. Cute animal familiar, check. Story told in a dozen modest chapters, in a suitably lean style, check. What's not to like?

Also, miracle, the mom didn't have to die or be awful or neglectful or whatever for the kid to have an adventure, yay!

Anyway, I suspect more young readers have access to e-book readers these days, so at least the thing isn't actually cut off from it
Well, this is a good example of how to write a children’s fantasy book well.

Writing good children’s/ middle grade books is hard. Think of all the pitfalls to avoid: the need to create the setting and the plot that is relatable and interesting yet not too simplistic; the language engaging yet not condescending; the characters relatable but believable and not just a walking bag of stereotypes and Mary-Sue-ness. It’s not rare to see critiques of children’s books being dismissed because “it’s for t
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
Another great YA fantasy from T. Kingfisher, now a Hugo nominee for the Lodestar Award (for best YA book). Final review, just posted on Fantasy Literature:

Oliver is a minor mage in two senses: he’s only twelve years old, and he only has three magical spells, and the one to control his allergy against armadillo dander doesn’t count for much. The aged and increasingly absent-minded village mage wasn’t able to teach Oliver much before he died. But he’s all the magic his village has, so when a sever
K.J. Charles
A delightful story about a 12yo mage plunged into a scary adventure because of adult cowardice, incompetence, and cruelty. All right, that doesn't *sound* delightful, but as ever T Kingfisher has got you. Oliver is scared and frequently completely wrong, and obsesses over things very like a 12yo, but he's also clear-sighted and kind in a way kids can be before adulthood makes everything both more complicated and simpler (by which I mean the point around the age of 40 where you go, "no, actually, ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrns, magic
Absolutely charming!
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this to bits.

I mean, it's not really anything new in Vernon's oeuvre, but it's got bandits and monsters and snarky animal companions and surprisingly insightful psychology and skewed looks at fairy tale and folklore, all wrapped up in this breezy language that just pulls you along.

Absolutely adore it.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Oliver is a mage. A twelve year old who's barely trained and has an armadillo as a familiar. But he is a mage and when his village needs someone to go to the Rainblade Mountains to break the drought, he's the one that has to go. What follows is a cracking adventure with monsters and bandits and a magical harper and Oliver proving himself equal to it all.

I think I'm at the point where I would happily read Ursula Vernon's shopping list and expect great characters and humor from it. Both are eviden
Allison Hurd
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Absolutely DELIGHTFUL. We've got snark, we've got lessons along the way, magic, monsters, mayhem and badass moms!

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The heroes. The two boys and Armadillo are just such very good good boys. A sweet and unlikely partnership, a good look at what it means to be a friend, and a perfect tie in to the idea that our actions are what define us.

-The morals.
Seems like I forgot to comment on this one. It is a feel-good, well-constructed middle grade story. Has a likable kid protag with an amazing armadillo as familiar.

PS: now can someone point me to a novel with a cute Llama?
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Charming. Utterly charming. Twelve-year old Oliver (and a very minor mage) is forced by his village to travel to where the Cloud herders are so he can bring back rain to his drought-stricken town. He and his adorable and adorably sarcastic armadillo familiar Eglamark encounter numerous problems and significant threats along the way. Using his two most frequently-used spells, humour and determination, Oliver makes a tough journey, both physically and emotionally, to accomplish his goal. The story ...more
The Captain
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Ahoy there me mateys! Novellas are floating me boat these days and this one was no exception. I have been meaning to read this author’s work for forever and was drawn into picking this up based on the armadillo on the cover. This story follows a 12 year old mage named Oliver who only knows three minor spells but is sent on a quest to save his village from a drought anyway. Oh and the armadillo is his familiar.

This was fantastic. It has the feel of an old school folktale in the beginning but quic
A delightful middle grade novella following a young not-very-good mage and his familiar, an armadillo, as they go on a trip to retrieve the rain and bring it back to their village. It draws inspiration from creepy folktales and dedicates attention to the importance of environmental knowledge (and environmental magic). I really appreciate books that explore the kind of magic that would realistically be used for everyday life and the, uh, more creative applications of it.
The spinning spiders scene
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, high-fantasy
Mmmyeah, that's the stuff. All children's books should contain cannibalistic monsters, musical instruments made from the bones and hair of murder victims, and bittersweet meditations on the harms people commit against loved ones while under the influence of panic-induced mob mentalities. Plus talking armadillos!
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love my new disaster child and his armadillo.

(for what it's worth, I would give this to a young-ish teenager but younger than that it would depend on the kid. Like, *I* would probably have read this at twelve, but that's not necessarily an endorsement. I'm sure I read things I shouldn't have at twelve.)

And in the spirit of Ao3 tags: adventure, magic, preteen hero, sassy armadillo, weird musical instruments, cannibalism, pigs, angry mobs, livestock.

— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) July
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, young-adult, 2019
A rare case where the writer says a book is for younger readers and the editors don't seem to agree, huh. It totally reads somewhere between YA & MG-tone wise, albeit with some very heavy themes and scary moments; a very Pratchett-esque book (and that's high praise) which expands a similar ethical project beyond humans-and-human-like to animals. I loved the humour and the protagonist. I read straight through the second half of it in bed, and when I finished I wished there was more Oliver for me ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As usual, as soon as a Kingfisher story drops I drop everything I'm doing to devour it. There is something in me that is always ready for her kind of story, which is usually kind, and sarcastic, and pragmatic, and full of adventure. This one features: Genuinely gross Ghuls! Magic straight out of a "oh the wind and rain!" or: harps that only sing murder ballads! Small magic and kids sent to do adult-sized tasks, armed only with what they've got (and an armadillo familiar). Self care! Support for ...more
This is a story of 12-year old Oliver who is a very minor mage. He knows three spells and has an armadillo as a familiar. Because of a long-time drought, he sets off on a quest to bring rain back. It was fun, but didn't stray away from darker elements even though it is a middle-grade or early young adult story. Adults were often incompetent or cruel figures.

I liked the armadillo, and the bit gruesome ability of the boy that Oliver meets in his travels, but I didn't really get sucked into the sto
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This is a lovely little book which I actually had finished before coronavirus isolation but which would be perfect for now - it's cute and funny, and while the stakes are high and real, it's a fantasy world (escapism!). I would say it's absolutely a young adult book, but the publishers said otherwise, apparently. YMMV. But there is a talking armadillo, and do you need anything more?
katayoun Masoodi
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, ebook, fantasy
I hope to see more stories about the armadillo and his mage, two lovely wise beings, i can just see them having great adventures!
This small adventure was most entertaining and it being a short story did not detract one iota from it being an engrossing read, one just hoped for more.
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Very fun, though a little bit high on the body count for a children’s book, which it basically is. I love the armadillo and want one for a friend. Also to visit the Cloud Herders.
Emma Cathryne
I have come to expect a certain type of book from T. Kingfisher (not in a bad way!), but this charming little book disabused me of that notion. I was not expecting to like it nearly as much as I did, but after finishing it I found myself wanting to curl up with this book and give it a hug.

The story follows a twelve-year old boy named Oliver who is, as the title states, a very minor mage in his village, only knowing three spells. He and his armadillo familiar are sent by his village to bring bac
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very cute. Oliver is such a sweet little doofus. Quick read, fun adventure, and several lovely little moments where Vernon's writing hits you right in the feels. I always enjoy her ability to focus on everyday characters and make them so relatable. Also, armadillo familiars, need I say more. I think this fits within the older MG to YA range--it's certainly not as dark/graphic as YA seems to be trending toward. Maybe too much for a more sensitive MG-age reader since it touches on torture and murd ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff
The one where the only one who can go on a quest to break the drought is 12-year-old mage-in-training Oliver and his familiar, an armadillo.

This was funny and clever and had surprising depths, and I don't really understand why I *enjoyed* it but didn't *love* it.
3.5 stars

Contains a surprising amount of murder, cannibalism, and violence for an archetypal MG/YA quest narrative!
Bibliophile Cat ( ^..^)ノ
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, 5-star
Yesterday I picked this up on a whim (completely ignoring the stack of books I'm already in the middle of reading *ahem*). Going by the blurb it sounded like it was going to be funny and unique. I mean, an armadillo familiar? Interesting. Refreshing. (maybe it's just me but animal companions in fantasy always seem to be the same. cats, dogs, wolves, horses, dragons, foxes, some sort of bird, etc. which are all well and good! But...variety is nice).
And it was both of those things and more! It sur
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Darkly sweet

T Kingfisher seems to have written several very gory but gentle-hearted children’s books, and I love them very much. Thankfully she has a very decent body of work, so I suddenly have plenty to read.
Nicholas Whyte
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it

Fun short book about a boy wizard sent on a heroic quest with his armadillo friend. I found it a bit slight, but it's engagingly written.
Ajax Coriander
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a lovely book, and the audio version was fantastically done.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it liked it
A charming little story about a young boy with some (but not enough maybe) magical powers who is sent on a quest to bring rain back to his village. Three and a half stars I’d say.
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Play Book Tag: Minor Mage - T. Kingfisher (4 stars) 1 5 Aug 24, 2020 06:23AM  
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T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon. In another life, she writes children's books and weird comics, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.

This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups.

When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies

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“Yes," agreed the Rain Wife. "That is the price your village paid. You will never love them with your whole heart again. The shadow of what they did in fear will lie between you forever. But they will be alive, nonetheless, and learning to bridge that shadowーor deciding not toーis the work of adulthood.” 2 likes
“It’s not good stomping along mad and forgetting to take care of yourself,” said the armadillo.” 1 likes
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