A.M. Justice's Reviews > Darkmage

Darkmage by M.L. Spencer
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really liked it
bookshelves: spfbo

Darkmage is a solidly good read (4.0 of 5 stars). Spencer ratchets up the tension slowly but surely as things go from bad to worse in this story of a people trying to fend off an invasion by an overwhelming enemy.

The story's hero is a rebel with a cause named Darien. On the night he ascends from acolyte to full mage, his hometown is destroyed and everyone he knows is killed when his jealous, power-hungry brother opens up a portal to hell. Darien survives by pure luck, but then, as the world's last surviving mage, he employs his wits to do whatever is necessary to stop the invasion of demons and their huge army, which his brother has unleashed.

Darien is the best thing about this book. Heroic and tormented, he makes choices that he himself, as well as his allies, find appalling, but which are the only way to defeat the enemy. I liked how Spencer developed his character and boxed him into a narrow path without options, and I liked how he remained plagued by remorse for the blood on his hands, but continued forging ahead with his plan. The magic system was also really interesting, in which potential mages acquire the ability to wield magic only if they are touching a full mage at the moment of the mage's death. There is a system of power tiers, and we're told that people above a certain level will suffer madness and a wasting illness. Darien unintentionally surpasses this level, which adds to the burdens he carries in the novel.

A few weaknesses are worth mentioning. There are a few anticlimaxes, such as an early chapter from Darien's mother's POV, which misleads the reader into thinking she'll be an important character, but then she's killed off-page. The priestess who was with the mother when she died is important, and I think the storytelling would have been more effective if we'd seen some of the narrative through the priestess's POV. Sometimes the action-effect-consequence scenarios weren't as clearly described as I would have liked, and I thought there were a few too many neat coincidences that allowed the main characters to survive and fight another day. These problems were relatively minor, however, and really didn't impair my overall enjoyment of the book.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 20, 2018 – Shelved
June 20, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 26, 2018 – Shelved as: spfbo

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