Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.25 / 5 stars)
Airships teeter in the sky. Alchemy fuels the mechanics. As two mechanics and an alchemist, Ikarim, Arteus, and Magaliana have ingrained themselves into society while under the wing of Arteus’s father. But after Art’s father dies and sky pirates raid their shop, the trio are sent on a whirlwind of an adventure, surrounding the mythical figure: the Techno Mage.
The mage is everything Magaliana thought was fantasy: charming, charismatic, and with the ability to perform true alchemy, he completely enthralls her. She wants nothing more but to master the art of alchemy just like he did. But will mastering it mean sacrificing her own values?
A well written, fast paced adventure, S.W. Raine’s debut novel will whisk readers young and old into a world of magic and technology. The characters are well defined: hot-headed Arteus, level-headed Ikarin, and tough-as-nails Magaliana serve as three different insights into the story. Then you have Josepheus, the slimy Technomage, who’s voice cuts through the paper like a deceptive breeze. The beginning is well thought out, giving the reader a chance to get to know the characters and see their motivations, as well as learn what brought them all together. Even if you haven’t read too much steampunk fiction, Raine does a good job at introducing the different elements to the world without inundating the reader with world building.
Yet, despite the well thought out beginning, the pacing grows muddy throughout the narrative. Parts will meander, before speeding up. While this often happens in many narratives, there were parts I would have enjoyed exploring more in depth: the Haze, the dichotomy between the above and below worlds, the second half of Mags’s arc, as well as the ultimate confrontation with the Technomage and his beloved Juliet. Yet, despite the fast paced nature of these part, I learned enough to still enjoy the story.
What did ultimately knock this book down to 3 stars for me though was a single trope. This is a personal opinion and might not impact most people’s thoughts on the book. Unfortunately, while Magaliana is a tough, powerful, and intelligent woman who I really adore, she falls into the “Smurfette Principle.” She is basically the only woman in the story. Yes there is Juliet and the characters mother’s, but they’re so brief in comparison to Magaliana’s role. While this occurs plenty in fiction, and often times is easy to overlook, the one issue I had was how so many of the male characters were infatuated with Magaliana, or used her to their advantage. Yes, Magaliana is endearing and intelligent, but it was something that personally made me a bit uneasy. This was made worse by how I interpreted the ages of characters, which are never blatantly mentioned, placing Magaliana’s fate at the hands of men older than her.
That being said though, Magaliana does receive some justice at the end by choosing her own destiny. I do hope to explore more of her adventures one day too, to explore more of her abilities as well as how her experiences shaped her into a powerful alchemist.
Still, The Techno Mage by S.W. Raine is a promising first novel that will captivate audiences. I definitely recommend that people jump on this voyage with Ikarim, Arteus, and Magaliana…it will be a fun time.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What’s it about?
She’s being held hostage and yet, Magaliana doesn’t want to be saved.
Close friends Ikarim, Arteus, and Magaliana always knew the dangers of sky pirates, but what they didn’t expect was having their airship repair shop pillaged and being separated when Magaliana, a noble, is sold for a hefty bounty.
Once in the hands of the Techno Mage, her world changes. He’s a mythical man with the ability to flawlessly combine both technology and alchemy, and his mythical ship is a haven for Magaliana. There, she discovers how to refine her craft.
Ikarim and Arteus are determined to escape the sky pirates to save her, but do they have what it takes before the Techno Mage initiates his grand plan?