Written by Sebastien de Castell
Published by Orbit, July 17, 2018
My star rating: 5 stars
Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There’s just one problem; his magic is fading. Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything – even his own life – in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path.
One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope. The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humour, and a whole new way to look at magic. Find it on Goodreads
I’m going to call this one bookish fate. There was a book last year that a lot of people were talking about. It sounded so interesting but, for some reason, I never wrote down the title or put it on a TBR list anywhere. It was lost. And try as I might, I couldn’t remember anything about it. About a month ago, I got a newsletter from Hachette Book Group Canada and there was this synopsis that sounded SO good! I requested it, and the cover was glorious (by the way, thanks to Hachette for sending this to me! I am forever grateful that you sealed the bookish fates for me! All opinions in this review are my own.) Anyways, I went to add it to my Goodreads TBR and there it was!!! The cover that I remembered from last year! A white cover that looked like the face of a playing card. The cover I have is different, but when I realized they were the same, I was even more excited to get to this!
When I opened the book, I was immediately hooked on the main character. Here he was, about to duel with a strong classmate when he had no magic himself. Many people asked if he wanted to go through with it. He might not be strong with magic, but he was sure strong with his brains. He used some serious con man magic and succeeded…. well, sort of. This is the beginning of a series of events that sets him on an adventure and quest for who he truly is. Like I said though, Kellen was a great character right off the bat. We saw him so vulnerable. The son of a powerful man yet here he was with no power himself. He was facing a life as a slave if his powers didn’t get him through the trials. In order not to be exiled, he needed to get really inventive and use his mind. If you’re a fan of Six of Crows, he actually reminded me of a younger brother to Kaz Brekker. He was a con man for sure. Using his strengths and exploiting others weaknesses. I loved him!
Another character that I lived for – Ferius! She was quick witted, full of spirit, spunk, smarts, and everything in between. She was actually a good mix between (yes, another Six of Crows comparison) Kaz and Inej……. love child maybe?? She was a mystery that you couldn’t wait to solve. I loved that she was a beacon of hope for Kellen, and, even though she was strong and had a magic of her own, she wasn’t unstoppable. She had her weaknesses just like everyone else and didn’t win all the time.
The magic was well done. Since Kellen himself didn’t have any powers to speak of, we learned through him how it worked and how it should feel. There was details of how it works, what you need to do, and where the power comes from. There were different kinds of magic that a mage could use. Sometimes they only had one, and sometimes they had multiple. It was great to see how they all worked together.
Another thing that I typically gravitate towards in fantasy is politics and social classes. There were points of time where I felt that the political angle could have been stronger though. Then again, this is a six book series, so I have a feeling there’s time to get back to it. The social classes were between mages and the people that didn’t have magic. Those people would live to serve the mages. There were even elements of an uprising between the lower classes (hello Red Rising, and Hunger Games lol).
But I think that my favourite part of this book was the magical animals! There’s a lot of talk about familiars and animals who can work and protect the mages. In this case, we have a squirrel cat (don’t ask questions). This cat is able to communicate with our main character and has an amazing personality all on his own!
So basically, if you’ve read this far, this book was amazing! The pace was steady and there were so many different things happening throughout the book that tied together. There was really never a dull moment! The characters were great and complex, the world building was detailed enough to give me a clear image in my mind, and the elements came together nicely without being overwhelming. When I first opened this book I thought I would like it, but I didn’t expect to be blown away! I am SO happy this book found its way into my life!
Until next time, happy reading!