The Black Mage: First Year By Rachel E. Carter
The Black Mage #1
Published August 12th 2014 By Astraea Press
Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the author in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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?
If there is a book that can turn around from meh to absolutely brilliant it is The Black Mage.
I struggled reading the first 30 pages or so of The Black Mage. It was slow, tiring and confusing — what with all the horses and things. I don’t read too many fantasy books so maybe this is why this is all a bit unfamiliar to me. That aside, The Black Mage are comeback kings, sucking me into the story 30 pages on.
The Black Mage picked up almost immediately once the main character Ryiah and her twin brother Alex finally makes it to the Academy. I really enjoyed their time at the Academy and though the concept seems similar to Harry Potter, The Black Mage certainly holds its own.
It is interesting how students of the Academy get to choose factions of their own choosing and how magic isn’t simply about casting spells (ala Harry Potter) but required more stamina, more concentration, more combat. The world within the Academy was wonderfully built and executed. It was different from what I had expected which is a pull factor.
I really enjoyed Priscilla and non-heir Prince Darren as antagonists, and also loved the friends that Ryiah made. The friendship that Ella and Ryiah has is heartwarming and lovely. It defied the status quo of highborns and lowborns.
I definitely enjoyed Darren and Ryiah’s love-hate relationship and there were some things I expected would happen but didn’t think it would be so quick. (No insta-love, so don’t be put off!)
This is the first book in a series of four, and I certainly am looking forward to the rest of the series seeing how the ending was just a huge crazy mess! I’m keen to see how relationships play out, highborns vs lowborns and of course, Ryiah’s magic.
The Black Mage is exciting and incredibly fast paced, and one that is great for fantasy fans and Harry Potter fans! The Black Mage captivates and enchants in the most magical of ways.