Rachel E. Carter
(The Black Mage Book #1)
Published August 11th, 2014
Goodreads: Show Review
Plot at a Glance:
Before the age of seventeen, the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice —pursue a trade or enroll in a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight, or mage…
For fifteen-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a mage and train in Combat, the most prestigious faction of magic.
Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Everyone is rooting for her to fail—first and foremost among them is Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.
I think my own expectations might have been a bit high here. This was one of those books where I saw a lot of my friends giving it glowing reviews, knew next to nothing about the it besides that people seemed to be enjoying it, and picked it up on a whim when I needed something to read on my Kindle. Had I known that it was going to center itself around the YA Competition-trope, I probably would have passed on this book all together.
It’s nothing against that particular premise. I understand that many people enjoy it and if you do, you’ll probably love it here, but I’ve kind of outgrown it. It all just becomes sort of repetitive. Like, if you’ve read a competition plot once or twice, you’ve sort of read them all. It’s not like you don’t know how it’s going to end, right? If you’re going to center a plot around a competition, you’ve got to throw some wrenches in the gears to spice things up. Unfortunately, this one lacks surprise and is fairly straightforward from start to finish.
The magic battles and training is certainly entertaining. How could it not be? Characters are hurling conjured weapons at each other and tearing great rents in the earth as they try and get ahead of each other. It’s entertaining for sure, but I really wanted more information about the world, and how exactly the magic system works. For example, the entire premise of this book centers around the first-year students at this Academy for Mages, vying for 15 spots at the end of the year so they can go on to become actual mages.
It’s never explained what happens if they fail and have to leave. Does their magic just disappear? Why can’t those individuals go on to try and hone their powers on their own? What makes the academy so necessary? It’s not like Ryiah was really taught anything by her teachers. In fact, the majority of learning she does in this book is because of hints other students, like Darren, give her.
As far as the love interest/romantic storyline goes: I think teenagers will love this. That being said, it was way too angst-filled for me. As much as I like my plots to surprise me, I like it when romances are straightforward and characters say what they mean and mean what they say. Ryiah and Darren’s entire relationship is based off of miscommunication and misunderstanding each other. Not to mention, Darren is insufferably arrogant and rude for the majority of the story. He’s also the Gary Sue to Ryiah’s exceedingly average characterization. He’s good looking, he’s royalty, and he is absolutely best in his class at magic?
I just wanted a bit more from this. I still think it’s a fun story, and definitely not a bad read. Teenagers are sure to enjoy this. Don’t let my own disappointment put you off reading it!