This was part of Fantasy Book Critic’s grouping and has since been eliminated, their mini review – “C. H. Baum’s debut effort was a nice mix of dark and epic fantasy and to top it off there was an interesting magic system which reminded me a lot of the one in Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker. The book’s pace also helped in this read and it was a dark and strong effort. “
A brief prologue in the book starts with the assassination of one of the only two Seer’s in the world. The Seer was listening to a prophecy of his own death at the time of his assassination, and in the prophecy, there was a prediction of war following his death.
From there we follow several groups of characters, the assassin named Klex and his band of murderers, his boss Paegus and his legion of sick weirdo’s, a group of mages and a group of soldiers.
After murdering the Seer, Klex sends the prophecy to Paegus which allows him to realize his full potential and twist the color Blue, which is a deeply disturbing kind of magic. Blue can let you melt people and turn them into rotting corpses, it’s never been done before and it’s a huge problem for those opposing Paegus. Klex then runs and hides in the Rot, an area infected by Purple magic, another dark and twisted form of magic that has its roots in torture.
The group of mages and soldiers are travelling together to The Rot to seek out and kill Klex. The mages travel by night since they use moonlight for their magic, and the soldiers travel by day. The wildlife and locals along the way pose a lot of problems for both groups.
The mages, soldiers, and Klex are on one continent that holds the Kingdom of Fast and Ham, while Paegus is on another continent called Magog. Paegus is essentially trying to take over the world, he ordered the assassination of the Seer to get things going to start a war over there so they can be easily divided and conquered.
Final Score: 7.75/10
Peter: He’s a red in the Guard for Ham, and a very impressive swordsman – often getting punished for outdoing some of the upperclassmen. He’s vying after the princess, since the king is allowing suitors of all social status a chance at her hand – the king is going off of merit instead of class.
Luther: He was part of the group that sent the assassin after the Seer of Fast, located on a different continent. A very rare type of sorcerer, able to twist two colors instead of just one, second in command to Paegus, the man who ordered the assassination of the Seer. He’s a necrophiliac, and all around disturbing character.
Paegus: The mastermind behind the war plans, and a purple magic user. His eyes have become so sensitive to light due to magic use that he wears a black scarf over his eyes to protect them. He’s sick and twisted, killing his own lover as a sacrifice to turn him into a Blue magic user.
Logan: a student sorcerer who’s currently a Red, despite the fact he can see and use all the colors of the moon. That’s basically unheard of, and he’s trying to keep it under wraps, but the trials along the way to find Klex is forcing him to use his other colors and his secret is coming out.
Diana: is the kings daughter who’s also a proficient Red soldier (swordsmen), she’s in love with Peter but can’t admit it because she doubts her father will let her marry him. Trying to make something work between them could just end up hurting them both in the end. She’s a decent leader, and a good person making it easy to root for her and her team.
There are a host of side characters, Lila, Brent, Max, Bon, Grant, Moren, Lisa, Janis etc. These all have minor POV’s and to be honest I would have liked to have learned about them through dialogue or some other way rather than very short POV chapters. Having this many POV’s reduced the time you spend with each of them, which sort of reduced the amount of character development for each. It was interesting to see their thoughts and feelings, but I feel like that could have been done in other ways that would move the plot along as well as have character development.
Final Score: 6.5/10
Right from the beginning there’s magic in the world, and it continues to be a strong presence throughout the rest of the book – that’s how I prefer my fantasy so I was loving that.
There’s also a strong magic system in it based on color, I’m a big fan of Lightbringer, and I loved the color aspect in Wheel of Time and Warbreaker, so, again this worked rather well for me.
The magic works by bending and twisting moonlight, and you’re ranked and categorized based on what color you can use, it was first implemented by the mages a long time ago, but has become common practice. The soldiers also rank themselves by color as well. Conscripts start out as brown, yellows are tracker, green are archers and red makes for good swordsmen etc.
Purple is a forbidden color, and it represents torture and the people who practice purple magic become twisted and deranged. It’s interesting to me how many of the color based magic systems leave out or forbid purple. No purple aja’s, no purple in lightbringer, and purple being forbidden in this world. Poor purple.
The Guards color rankings and the mages color rankings are totally different.
Orange magic can set things on fire.
Red magic can be used for teleportation.
Green magic can bend nature.
Yellow magic can be used to See.
Brown magic can be used to help construct buildings, it’s used as a mortar to hold things together and hold shields.
Bastus, God of Dark Enlightenment, those who practice purple worship him. Deus is the ‘normal’ god of enlightenment which most people worship.
There’s a fair amount of wildlife and other monsters in this book, like golems and enormous snakes, and the undead.
All in all I think the world building and magic system was the strongest part of the book.
Final Score: 8/10
Pacing, Prose, and Tone:
The tone is rather dark, and I’ve come off of several dark books right before this, so I was nervous I wouldn’t be in the mood for it, but given the world building and magic system, I really enjoyed myself.
There were a few spelling and editing errors here and there, and a few overused phrases, but it didn’t take away too much from my enjoyment.
The pacing was much better in the second half of the book than the first half when all of the characters were being introduced. Once I got past 30% things really got going.
Writing Final Score: 7/10
Pacing Final Score: 7/10
I’ve seen a few magic systems based on color (but not that many), and it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed, lightbringer being one of my favorites. There was enough difference in how this magic system worked from other light based magic that it read fresh.
Final Score: 8/10
- For people who enjoy multi pov
- For people looking for a hard magic system
- For people who enjoy Brent Weeks
- For people who enjoy darker stories
- For people who enjoy villain pov’s
- For people who like a lot of violence and action
All in all I liked this book, it has its flaws, but it was an enjoyable read for me and a good effort as a debut – I see a lot of potential for future books and if there’s a sequel I’ll probably pick it up.
If you liked Warbreaker, and were wondering what it would be like to have a magic system like that if the story was darker, this may really appeal to you.
Final Score: 44.25/60 or 7.4/10