Intrigue. Magic. A Dark Prince.
This is how I summarize a series I did not want to see end… I highly recommend The Dark Mage series by Rachel Carter.
SUMMARY (from back cover): Before the age of seventeen the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice –follow tradition, or pursue a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight or mage…
For 15-year-old Ryiah the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead –the realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic.
Yet when she arrives Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every “first-year” is given a trial year to prove their worth –and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail –and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.
When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve –and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat… Still, nothing is ever as it seems –and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in –herself. Will it be enough?
WHAT I THOUGHT: You’ll notice I am doing a review of all three books at once. There’s a reason for that, namely, once I got going in the series, I didn’t want to stop to think about the first book, or even the second as I finished it…I wanted to keep reading! I was hooked.
Book One started out a bit slow for my taste, but I kept thinking I’d give it a chance and see where the author took me. Obviously, I was not disappointed. I thought each book built nicely on the next and the storyline compelled me forward.
I loved the protagonist, Ryiah. She began as a regular girl of 15 and through her first year studies at the school, was torn down by a prejudiced instructor as well as her own insecurities as well as second guessing about a certain boy prince. But she grows stronger and in book two, we see her continue to evolve in her magic as well as personally. SPOILER ALERT – I absolutely loved Darren’s marriage proposal at the end of book 2. What a guy! Then in book 3, coming to understand the king, his expectations, and how he raised his sons, Ryiah grows stronger still. I can’t imagine fighting all out against the love of your life, regardless of the circumstance. It truly took a lot of courage on both her and the prince’s part.
That said, I did not appreciate the lack of editing. I found several places where the wrong word was used. I always hate it when that happens for it draws attention to the craft and distracts from the narrative. For this, I always deduct 10% from the rating. That aside, I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a good plot and dynamic characters.
Overall, I give book one 4 stars, books 2 – 4.5 stars and book 3 – 4 stars.
Buy The Black Mage book one (at Amazon)
Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
FB: LRWLee Author
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FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.