By David Hair
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.
Mage’s Blood is the first in a planned quartet of books. Much like any fantasy novel with the same scope, the book follows the threads and lives of several groups of people. Also like any fantasy novel with the same scope, this first book spends a great deal of time building the world and building the magic system that drives much of the story.
The world Hair builds here is very similar in both naming and culture to Europe and the Middle East. It’s well built, but was a bit distracting to me as I attempted to compare the places to their real-life counterparts. In many ways, the book read like a historical fiction, without the direct ability to link the places and events. The same was true for the names of the months that he used, except that they were stuck somewhere in between familiar and completely different that I spent even more time struggling to figure out how they fit and in what order. In many ways, I wish that Hair had made more effort in making the world and namings more unique. It’s unfortunate that a story that was as good as this one kept being interrupted by my mind wandering to figure out the names.
The story is a good one though, if you can get past all that. The writing is good, and the story moves along at a very good pace. One of the mistakes that authors of epic fantasy make is to write the characters in such a way that they are hard to follow. They’re names are too similar, or they are written too similar. Hair’s characters were extremely well written, and easy to follow. One of the benefits of the similarities in name and place that I mentioned above was that the cultures were pretty similar as well. In that case, it was helpful in quickly understanding some of the cultural happenings.
Overall, the book is a good one. The story is well written, and the plot flows nicely. Aside from the small issues that I mentioned above, I could find little else that was wrong with the book. When completed, the Moontide Quartet, of which Mage’s Blood is the first book, will likely be thought of as one of the best examples, in recent memory, of epic fantasy.