Monday, January 17, 2022

Review: SERVANT MAGE by Kate Elliott


Rating: 2/5 stars

Servant Mage is an epic fantasy story condensed into a standalone novella, proving that you don’t need a heavy tome to have a unique world and magic system, political intrigue, a (mostly) engaging plot, and a diverse cast of characters. Unfortunately, the length of this story was its biggest weakness for me. 

Fellian is a fire mage. There are mages for the five elements: fire, earth, air, water, and aether. She’s an indentured servant, only taught the most basic magical abilities to be able to do her job, when one day a group of mages breaks her out of her prison to steal her away on a mission.

There are two groups fighting a war in the land, the Liberationists and the Monarchists, but I never felt like I fully grasped what either side was fighting for or what they believed. I only knew that they were enemies.

One of this book’s downfalls is that there’s very little character development, especially for such a big cast of characters in such a short book. I constantly was confused about who was who and who was related to who, and we really only get any in-depth info about Fellian, and even then it’s limited.

I found the first fifty percent of the novella to be engaging and interesting, but something happened around the halfway mark because the latter fifty percent was lackluster and messy as I wasn’t sure where the plot was going and I had sadly stopped caring about any element of the story.

Servant Mage is very fast-paced and quick to the point. I think this is a good story if you are new to epic fantasy and want to get a feel for the genre and read about magic and political intrigue and war and adventure but are intimidated by the usual 500+ page books. However, I think seasoned fantasy readers will find something lacking here as the story is very surface-level and isn’t very memorable in the end.

Also I think the cover is very misleading because there aren’t any dragons in the story, and the dragon is what initially had me picking up the book.

Overall, this novella was fine but nothing special. Novellas normally don’t work for me because I always want more than they offer, and that seems to be the case here as well. Servant Mage would definitely benefit from being longer and having a more developed plot and more in-depth characters. When I finished the story I was left with a feeling of “well, what was even the point of that?” and you should never feel that way about a book. I wish I had more positive thoughts about this story but it unfortunately let me down. 

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