The Choice of Magic by Michael G Manning

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I’ve been in a bad reading slump this year, this was the fifth book I finished, and I’m nine books behind my goal according to Goodreads. I picked this one specifically because of the narrator, I knew nothing about this book except for the fact it was narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds.

I finally fixed my reading slump! After I finished with this one I immediately bought two more in the series. That in an of itself is rare, I almost exclusively read first in a series and move onto the next series.

This will appeal to people who like a lot of magic, magic training, master apprentice relationships, and military training/war.

At the beginning, William lived with his mother in a small backwater village and had a fairly simple life. His mother is a healer and midwife who sells herbs and such, and although they aren’t wealthy, they get by. At the start, he doesn’t know who his father is, or why he was never around, but it doesn’t bother him much. He has an uncle and cousins who lived near by and they filled that void for him.

One thing lead to another, and Will ends up being trained by a hermit who lives nearby the village but never actually comes into town. He shows him that magic is real and will has potential… but in order to start training for magic… he’s got to learn the basics. Like how to read. Magic in this world is restricted, not necessarily forbidden. If you’re registered and the King knows about your powers it’s okay, but you’re basically the King’s lackey. If you’re off the grid and doing magic on your own the best you can hope for is prison. The mentor doesn’t want to teach Will real magic, just enough to keep him hidden and out of trouble. Once you know how to do true magic things can get complicated. Although there are Sorcerers still left in the world, his mentor is the last known Wizard. There are different types of magic users that focus on different talents and different ways to harvest and use magic. Sorcerers enslave elementals, Warlocks make pacts with supernatural beings, and Wizards harvest the latent magic present in the world.

I would say the storytelling style is straight forward without a lot of flowery language or simile/metaphors. It makes the book go by super quick despite the fact it’s nearly 700 pages long. I finished this in two days on audiobook put at 1.5x. The dialogue was a highlight of the book, the mentor is absolutely relentless with his insults… which is shitty thing to do to Will, but it’s also really funny at times. I would say it’s kind of like Dr. Cox and JD from Scrubs but with actual cursing. There were definitely a bunch of info dumps about how magic worked, the different types of magic users and things of that nature. However, the delivery was usually from Will’s mentor and the way it was explained was highly entertaining for me so I didn’t mind.

Will is an okay character, he’s pretty par for the course for a younger character who also happens to be headstrong and stubborn. He makes a lot of risky and stupid decisions where I was like “DON’T DO THAT”. He does grow throughout the book, both literally and figuratively, at the start he’s 12 and by the end he’s 17, and he does mature a bit which makes him more palatable. My favorite character was his begrudging mentor with a foul mouth, and my second favorite is a guy he meets up with in the army, Tiny. Tiny is actually huge, and most people consider him a dolt, but he’s not. I enjoyed the fact that the big guy in the army isn’t just brawn but he has some depth to his character.

The pacing was pretty good, but there was a part that I had a hard time connecting with. Will ends up in the army in the latter half of the book… but because I didn’t have a lot of background on why the two factions were at war I had a hard time engaging. The battle scenes were gripping, but afterwards I kept thinking, “why are they doing this?” There was a brief explanation given for the war, but I just found it too weak and without enough information for me to emotionally invest.

One of the things I most enjoyed was the constant flow of teasers, mysteries, and subplots that were introduced and then explained at an even pace throughout the book. An example of that was The God Damn Cat. The wizard lives in this cottage in the woods with a Cat that he talks to. The cat doesn’t talk back, or make any human like movements… but it does appear to understand. Also, Will learns later on that the Fae are genuinely scared of The God Damn Cat and won’t go near the cottage because of it… immortal beings… scared of a cat. But why? Things like that kept me interested in reading more and figuring out the mysteries of this world. Not all of them were solved in this book, and because I enjoyed it so much I picked up the next one.


  • Plot: 13/15
  • Characters: 12.5/15
  • World Building: 13.5/15
  • Writing: 12/15
  • Pacing: 10/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 8.5/10

Final Score: 80.5/100 or 4/5 stars on GR