I have to admit that I’d never heard of C.S. Friedman before. I read several very positive reviews of her latest trilogy, and I’d heard that her previous venture into fantasy (The Coldfire Trilogy) was excellent, so I figured it was time for me to see what all the fuss was about. If there was one word I could put to Book 1 of The Magister Trilogy it would be “meh”. A strong beginning, a unique spin on Magic, and several intriguing characters fill the pages, but that’s about it.
The book centers around five different characters. A mysterious Magister by the name of Colivar, a terminally ill Prince named Andovan, Gwynofar the dutiful queen, and Kamala the first female to become a Magister. A Magister is essentially a bad ass wizard/sorcerer who gets their power from the souls of other people. The magic system is fairly simple to understand and it goes like this: every Magister is attached to a person’s soul. That person’s soul provides the fuel necessary to produce spells. So if a Magister whispers a spell to light a candle, the person attached to them looses a tiny portion of their souls. It isn’t as complicated as I just made it sound, but it does have certain rules. Females have never attained the rank of Magister until Kamala hit the scene.
Kamala is the main character of the series, and the first sections of the book show her apprenticing to an old reclusive Magister. The apprentice theme really worked for me, and I found those early chapters to be a lot of fun, almost reminiscent of Arya from A Song of Ice and Fire. Once Kamala becomes the first female Magister, she hits the road determined to make a name for herself.
Andovan is a prince who has more interest in hunting and the great outdoors than he does running a kingdom. Unfortunately he comes down with a very serious illness. Since he is of royal blood, his father seeks help from all corners of the land. This is when we get to meet Colivar, a Magister who serves under a rival king. Although his allegiance doesn’t lie with Andovan and his father, he is nonetheless willing to help out in any way he can. The illness Andovan is suffering from is known as “the wasting”. Sadly Prince Andovan has been chosen to be fuel for a Magister. His story arch centers around him trying to discover the source of his sickness.
These three characters were the most fun to read, but unfortunately the novel looses a lot of credibility when Andovan and Kamala meet. There was a touch of romance involved and the end result was super cheesy. This was probably my biggest complaint, but I was still intrigued enough to continue.
Overall the first book in this series was half excitement and half letdown for me. I’m going to continue the series but I’m really hoping that Friedman doesn’t dabble too much into the romantic relationships between her characters, but instead focuses more on the political intrigue which she defiantly excels at. Book 2 here we go!