Some people like their heroes to be the proud hero type, fearlessly dashing into danger without a second thought. While those can be enjoyable stories, sometimes a more reluctant hero can also make for a good story.
In Spellmonger by Terry Mancour, we have a pretty much textbook case of Minalan the mage, who just wants to be a simple village spellmonger, but the local goblins have other ideas. They decide to attack his village, along with several others. Of course, being an Academy trained veteran Warmage, he steps in to combat the gurvani, as they call themselves.
The story that unfolds is one that carries you along from one step to the next, right along with our hero. Since it’s told in first person, we get right inside the hero’s head, understanding his thoughts and experiences, along with his memories of his early years. The backstory is well thought out and hangs together nicely, giving both the hero and the world a sense of having history, which makes both more three-dimensional.
The system of magic, along with the non-human societies Mancour creates, are both somewhat familiar, but with a few interesting twists, which keeps things fresh and keeps them from feeling like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen this before.” For example, one of Minalan’s friends and allies specializes in sex magic, which is essentially the opposite of necromancy (life magic vs. death magic), and which is as powerful, or more powerful as using a sacrifice to create magical power. Needless to say, this isn’t really a book you’d want to hand someone too young to handle adult themes.
One minor quibble is a number of small errors. The book really could have used the services of a professional editor, or at the very least a team of volunteer proofreaders who know enough to catch spelling, grammatical, and formatting mistakes. However, they’re infrequent enough that they don’t really detract from the story, unless you’re an absolute stickler for perfection in editing.
All in all, it’s well worth the $3 that Amazon is currently asking for the Kindle edition, and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series.