Book Review: The Battlemage

Finished Reading: The Battlemage
Summoner
Trilogy #3
by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: YA Fantasy

Battlemage

Spoiler notice: The following review will contain some spoilers for the previous books in the trilogy, The Novice and The Inquisition.

The Battlemage picks up immediately after the previous story’s end, with the main character, Fletcher, and what’s left of his unit jumping into the otherworldy ether to escape the enemy. They must find a way to return home, and then deal with the aftermath of their mission in the jungle, which ended in treachery and betrayal. Meanwhile, the orcs are poised to invade Fletcher’s country with an army that might be too large to overcome.

This book did a great job of wrapping up the entire trilogy, while being a fully story on its own. I was a lot more excited going into this one than into the 2nd one, based on the cliffhanger at the end of the previous books, and the ether didn’t disappoint. The book was more distinctly 3 separate acts than any book I’ve really ever read, and the second act was also a lot of fun to read. By the third act, I knew what was coming, and it did end up being my least favorite part of the book. But that is purely personal preference, as I’ll explain further below.

It was great to see back some of the characters from the first book, and a little from the second. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see much more of Arcturus, and overall, he wasn’t in the trilogy as much as I would have hoped and expected, especially considering that the prequel is about his history.

I enjoyed the middle act, where we really get to see Fletcher grow as a leader, and where the race warfare throughout the trilogy comes to a head, a lot more than I would have thought I would.  But I knew what was looming–the big war with the orcs. I don’t personally care for large-scale, devastating wars in books, so that’s why the third act my least favorite. It was made better by getting to see Fletcher’s ingenuity though, plus I like the addition of the demons during the fighting.

The ending of the book had some moments I was really happy to see, but also failed to wrap up some storylines in a way I would have preferred. However, I wasn’t left with the feeling that anything was completely neglected, so I can’t really complain. For some reason, I was just left with this feeling of it being anti-climactic, but I can’t explain why. I think it’s just because I would have liked more in the series in general. Overall, this entire trilogy was a solid 4 stars for me.

After reading the first book, I described it as a mix between Harry Potter and Pokemon, even though at the time, I hadn’t read any Harry Potter. I have read the first 2 in the series now, and I stand by my assessment, but only of the first book. The second and third books could better be compared to Warcraft, or even LoTR somewhat. In general, though, I would recommend this trilogy to anyone who enjoys magical fantasy books.

Find out more about The Battlemage

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Novice

Finished Reading: The Novice
Summoner
Trilogy #1
by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: YA Fantasy

The Novice

A young blacksmith apprentice stumbles onto a magical book that he can’t resist reading from, which summons a small demon from another world. This is an ability only certain people have, which makes Fletcher special (he can also cast spells, and just to be clear, the demon is basically an otherworldly animal). Shortly thereafter, he is forced to flee his hometown and basically stumbles upon a school for summoners. There, summoners are trained to become battlemages, so they can fight in a never-ending war against orcs.

While trying to make sure I read plenty of sci-fi and fantasy books because that is the genre I write in, it’s difficult to wade through what’s out there. I’ve not read much of either genre in the past, as mystery books were my favorite genre for most of my life. I am finding that I still don’t particularly enjoy large amounts of world-building or complicated settings. I also don’t care for dark, gritty worlds, which seems to be in abundance in speculative fiction.

After setting aside a few of the books I picked out to read for various reasons, some of which is mentioned above, The Novice was a refreshing change. It is YA, which might just lend a lot to its simpler nature, but I’ll freely admit that I have always been one to enjoy things below my age level. Still, this book had clear language and a lighter world than the others I’d been presented with recently.

By halfway through the book, I described it as Harry Potter* meets Pokemon, though I’ll say that the demon pet aspect didn’t end up being as pronounced as I expected it to be (I still wanted one of my own though). Throw in some elf/dwarf/orc stereotypes straight out of something like Lord of the Rings or even World of Warcraft, and you have this book. I personally enjoyed the way these elements came together.

Race and class warfare are a large part of what drives this book. This book of the trilogy focuses on the Fletcher learning about his newfound magic and training to compete in a tournament, the winner of which gains a coveted high officer spot in the nation’s military. But being part of a larger series, it’s clear that it’s being set up for bigger, more important things to come.

A few downsides I want to mention–some parts of the book are a bit predictable, but plenty of it was unexpected. The biggest issue I had was with some of the writing, especially the dialog tags. Even this is a small issue overall, but characters so often “growl” their dialog, and it started to become distracting to me. There was at least one other commonly used dialog action that was strange to me, though I don’t recall what it is now. Also, characters are often whispering into each others ears, even as they’re walking, and I’m imagining them hanging on each other while they’re talking. Again, a minor thing, but it did bring me out of the story at times.

I was very unhappy with the ending–not because it didn’t make sense or didn’t have every reason to happen. It does set up the 2nd book. But I didn’t like where it leaves the second book to start, so after enjoying the rest, I was disappointed by the ending. However, this is not a statement of bad writing or storytelling, just something I found myself disliking. I’m still looking forward to reading the next book (which I’ll come back to after reading a few other books).

What originally drew me to the book was the very first line of the jacket blurb, which said that the main character was a blacksmith apprentice. One of the main characters of my books starts out as a blacksmith apprentice, which is somewhat drawn from the fact that my own dad is a blacksmith. Though that turned out to be a small part of the book, I’m glad it got me into this trilogy.

Find out more about The Novice

Up next: Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker
*I haven’t read or seen any Harry Potter, though it’s on my TBR list, so this is just from the understanding I have of it from second-hand knowledge.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Moar Notebooks!

To make a long story short, I have a bit of a notebook collection. A current count shows 15 empty notebooks, and probably close to that many either filled or currently being filled. I just can’t help myself when I’m out, whether at a mall, a gift shop, or just about any store that has any selection of notebooks or stationery. In the last couple of years, I have tried to cut down on buying any, but I’ve still made some purchases.

I’ve shared my collection on my blog twice now, and I realized a few weeks ago that I have bought 6 more since the 2nd post. So rather than wait until I have 10 to post about, since I like to share the story behind each notebook and don’t want the post to be as long as last time, I decided now is a good time for a post.

(Follow these links to see the first and second posts about my collection)

notebook 1

This is my first official Moleskine notebook (and only so far). My husband and I were at Barnes and Noble and I saw their display of them and told my husband how they were a famous brand of notebooks. As often happens when I show interest in something in front of my husband, he insisted I get one. I haven’t started using it yet, but have plans for it to replace my NaNoWriMo notebook that is more than half full now, because it’s the same shape and size (that’s a compulsion with me).


notebook 2

I don’t actually have much to say about this one. I’m pretty sure my husband bought it for me when I wasn’t with him and surprised me with it. He introduced me to Pokemon when we got married (in fact, he basically introduced me to the whole world of geek), so it’s quite fitting, really. It’s empty, and probably will be for a while.


notebook 3

I can’t try to shame anyone who hasn’t seen Stranger Things, because when the first season was out, it took me about a year to get around to watching it, even though my husband and many others I knew said how great it was. My husband found this notebook (at Walmart, of all places) a week or so before season 3 came out last month. The cover is actually from season 1 though, which I was glad for, because I didn’t like season 2 quite as much, and didn’t know yet what I’d think about season 3.


notebook 4anotebook 4b

The next 3 notebooks were all bought on the same weekend anniversary trip my husband and I took last month. As soon as I saw this notebook, I knew I had to have it…there was really no question. The book can be closed with the leather lace, wrapping it around the book, and then around/under the leaf on the front. The green is a soft material, and the right picture shows the quote that is on the inside cover. It wasn’t even until after I bought it and looked at it more that I realized that what you see here is actually a book cover, inside which is a plain notebook with a cardboard front and back cover that can be removed when it’s filled, so the outer LoTR-themed cover can be re-used. So it was even better than I thought when I first found it! I’m pretty much in love with it. I have no idea what I’m going to use it for, but I think I have to start using it very soon.


notebook 5aI found this book in the clearance section of Barnes & Noble. It might seem strange to many, but it piqued my interest. It’s a guest book, meant to be used for whatever guest books are normally used for. But inside, there are lines like in any notebook, and somehow the unique shape of it, and even the word “GUESTS” on the cover and each page, led me to have all sorts of ideas about the inspiration that could come while writing in it. So it was worth it for a clearance price. (My husband tried to tell me he didn’t think I was weird, but I could tell he did.)


notebook 6anotebook 6b

The final notebook for this post was found in a bargain store. I told myself not to go to the office supplies area, but I just couldn’t help myself (I never can). The wood grain cover was enough to at least draw my attention, but I would have put it back and walked away had I not opened it and seen the inside cover. My estimate is that the map is from around the time of the French & Indian War, though I admit I haven’t looked it up or anything. Either way, I really liked the look of it, so now it’s part of my collection.

I’ve noticed that I’m not the only writer who has a plethora of notebooks, so feel free to show me yours!