Book Review – The Innocent Mage, The Awakened Mage

January 18, 2009 · 0 comments

This review will be a twofer:  The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage, by Karen Miller.  These two books are in the “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” series – which is kind of misleading because I generally consider a series more than three books.  I passed these books up a while back when I was looking for something to read because I thought they were merely the first two of many.  I enjoy reading books in a series, but I do not enjoy starting a series and waiting for the next book to come out.  Examples of this type of situation are George R. R. Martin, Steven Erikson, and (sadly) Robert Jordan.

The latter two authors have some degree of excuse:  I find Steven Erikson’s “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series to be incredible, and he has a definite outline already set out for the ten books in the series; Robert Jordan is dead, but he was dictating notes for the final book in his “Wheel of Time” series basically until the moment he died (and, in all fairness, the characters and plotlines really did get away from him).  Martin’s just a fat lazy shite.

I found the “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” series to be fairly well-written.  It drags here and there and is a bit light and fluffy at times, but I think that can be chalked up to the fact that Miller’s a woman.  Any misogynistic impression that may leave you with aside, dear reader, I would recommend these two books.  I think the plot moved along swiftly enough and that Miller did a fine job of following one of the major axioms of writing: “if you’re going to show the audience a gun in the first act, it has to go off in the third”.  There were a few wrap-ups that I found to be a bit lazy on her part, but all of the ends got tied off, and I wasn’t left wondering about the resolution of any plot-strings or the fate of any characters.

Now a word about male and female authors:

I think the main reason I prefer male authors is because I myself have a Y chromosome.  Male authors tend to be grittier and their plotlines are more action- and event-driven.  Female authors tend to spend more ink on emotions and etiquette.  I’m not being judgmental; the one is not necessarily better than the other, it’s just that I prefer the former to the latter.  I want to know what happens in the story. 

That said, the female authors that I have particularly enjoyed don’t necessarily fall out of the above categorizations.  C. J. Cherryh, Ayn Rand, and Octavia E. Butler all wrote event-driven books that also contained plenty of emotional detail.  Cherryh was particularly concerned with etiquette and cultural differences, Rand delved deeply into her own philosophical musings, and Butler leaned heavily on racially-based analogies for her storylines.

I don’t know that, as an author, Miller really qualifies to be included in a discussion with the other authors I’ve mentioned here, but time may prove me incorrect.  I think she has some maturing to do as an author, but there are parts of her style that I enjoyed in these two books and I hope she is successful enough to develop (as an author) a bit more.

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