SPFBO 7 Review: The Other Magic by Derrick Smythe

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This is a world where only those who have been sanctioned to practice magic can wield it. Those deemed unworthy of using magic will be ‘castrated’ from the source, their bond to magic permanently broken. In rare cases this castration spell doesn’t work, and the punishment for that is death.

This story follows four characters as they navigate this world taking different paths but by the end their connections to one another are made more clear.

Kibure is a slave boy, his POV is the most tragic in my opinion. He was born into slavery and doesn’t know anything about his parents, all he knows is that he looks different from everyone else. He has white iris’s that no one can explain, and no one knows who his mother was. He is constantly abused, beaten, starved… his POVs are pretty depressing because of all the characters he’s the one who deserves that life the least. When he was stressed to the breaking point under his first master he showed an ability to wield magic and was sold to another slaver and POV later on, Sidri. One of my favorite parts of Kibure’s chapters is the fact he has this spirit guide/animal Rave, a raven type creature that’s been a friend to him since his first slave owner had him. A little drawback however is that since Rave helps him out in some tight spots it could be considered a little Dues ex machina at times.

Sidri has also had a rather tragic past, her whole family was murdered when her brother resisted the castration spell and was sentenced to death. She was thrown out of her priesthood and has been living as an outcast. She was hired to capture Kibure but has chosen instead to try and help him escape. I found her to be one of the more relatable characters even though she’s far from ‘good’, when we are introduced to her she’s willing to torture Kibure for any information she may find useful — he’s 12, mind. She feels bad about it, but she does it.

I say she’s one of the more relatable characters because of the other other POVs is from the villains’ perspective, Grabennar. He’s a fucking sociopath monster. He doesn’t care who he has to kill to get ahead. He’s a fervent believer in his God King and watches his God King suck the souls out of people. Their eyes boil and sizzle and their souls steam out of their bodies. He watches his God King do this to kids, he willingly brings kids to his God King for this fucked up sacrifice. He also has a voice in his head that’s from the soul that’s trapped in a pendant he wears around his neck. This pendant is even more evil than he is, she encourages him to kill and torture people even more often than he does. So yeah, by comparison Sidri is angelic.

Then there’s Aynward…. he’s frustrating but also has potential to turn into a great character. I have hopes that in the second book this character gets a chance to grow and to shine. There were glimpses of redeeming qualities early on that were slowly built upon as the story went on and he got more life lessons beaten into him. He’s an arrogant, stuck up, stubborn asshole prince, he treats servants as slaves and thinks overly-much of his own prowess. What’s both frustrating and redeeming is that he really is smart. He’s at an academy and if he were to just apply himself he could be a great student. He passes with okay grades without trying as it is. He gets a mentor at the school who was one of my favorite characters, and from there he starts an arc of growth that I’d be excited to see continue in the next one.

I liked the prose for the most part. I feel like the dialogue could use a little work in places, but there was nothing so jarring that I was tempted to put it down. There were a couple info dumps here and there which is typical for a magic school/military academy setting, I’m more forgiving of that then I am with two people telling each other things they should already know; but these were kind of long at times.

The pacing could be very slow, it took 75% of the book for all of the POVs to come together and become relevant to one another, there was a lot of build up, a 600 page lead-in to an epic scope story. I can see people getting frustrated with the first 200 pages or so because not a lot happens. I personally felt like the ending was worth the investment, but I could see how maybe someone wouldn’t want to wait that long. I was listening to the audiobook which was so enjoyable I honestly didn’t mind.

I very, very highly recommend the audiobook, it was really fantastic. There were a ton of believable voices that weren’t overdone but were distinct and recognizable… he almost sounds kind of like a mix of Simon Vance and Nick Podehl.

Ratings:

  • Plot: 11/15
  • Characters: 11.5/15
  • World Building: 12/15
  • Writing: 12/15
  • Pacing: 10/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Enjoyment: 7.5/10

Final Score: 75/100