*BOOK REVIEW* Battlemage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #1) by Stephen Aryan

‘I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,’ Balfruss growled. ‘It’s dangerous to meddle with things you don’t understand.’
‘BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.
VARGUS is a common soldier – while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.
TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.
Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent’

Battlemage tells the story of the war between the mad king Taikon of Zeccoria (with aid from the dark wizard, The Warlock) and the people of Seveldrom, led by Princess Talandra; through the eyes of the aforementioned trio of key players. The novel is set around the fight itself and the various manoeuvrings of the armies both on the front lines and behind the scenes.

First of all, I will point out that this is a book that I bought before I’d finished reading the blurb; it just had everything that I would want form a fantasy novel; magic, battles, gods, blood, and guts. My hopes were high.

The parts of the book I enjoyed most were those with the characters that operate behind the scenes and that is rare for me; usually I’m a sucker for a balls-out all-action warrior! but in this case, it was the various spies being deployed that really hooked me. The way they went about their business and influenced with subtle societal shifts was a great touch to the story and helped to paint the bigger picture.

There are also other great parts of this story; the action scenes were good, with some ‘close ups’ of the battles in little snippets and some interesting characters. The biggest problem I had with this novel was the lack of depth to the characters. Now, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing from this novel and i had to consult various people in Facebook groups and found that I agreed with the criticisms; it’s just a bit… shallow.

The characters aren’t fleshed out enough for me and because of that I found it really hard to buy into them. I found myself not caring whether they died, and that’s bad! there are a congregation of Battlemages from various parts of the world and they had the potential to be awesome, hell, they were ALMOST awesome but they just didn’t quite get there. The regular battles between the magical Battlemages and the enemy were not detailed enough, I wanted loads more action but I just didn’t get it.

Also – and this is a weird aside – I think that the personalities of Balfruss and Vargus aren’t suited to their names; I would have switched them around (how arrogant and crass of me). That is the most subjective thing I’ve ever written but screw it, in my head, they’re in reverse!

This being said, I think the potential of this world is huge, and for that reason, I have bought the next two books in the trilogy.

The writer’s style is easy and fluid and he has created a world full of dying magic that has got me interested…just. If the books in this trilogy improve with every instalment, then Chaosmage will blow my head off!

Where to find Stephen Aryan;

Website: https://stephen-aryan.com/

Where to find Battlemage;

 

I really hope this was a balanced review as I have thought about this for a few weeks since I finished it.

Anyway, thanks for reading 🙂

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