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Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 367 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: May 2, 2017

Series:  The Summoner #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Fletcher and his friends fight for survival in the ether, where they pursue a mortally dangerous quest to rebuild their world and broker peace.
Even as hatred threatens to turn friend into foe in The Battlemage, Fletcher must lead a small army of soldiers into battle to protect his ancestral homeland, and face his biggest challenge yet: his nemesis, the albino orc, Khan, who seeks to destroy everything Fletcher holds dear.

This next adventure for Fletcher comes smack after the events of The Inquisition as Fletcher and his friends have been stranded in the poisonous ether and are on the run from the pursuing orcs. I found this part of the story to be both creative and also hard to grasp the full breadth and detail of the setting. The ether seemed to have more identified demons than in the glossary at the end of the novels, and while it's easily imaginable to have many more demons, there's both a narrow-ness of the scope of demons we've met and then those that appear in the ether. I find this contradiction confusing, which consequently made the ether "world" hard to see. There was a lot of vague description and little detail to make this world come fully realized.

This brings me to the next significant event which is where Ignatius goes deep-lava-diving and he "levels up" or evolves (just like a Pokémon) into a Drake. In the confrontation with Khan, we learn that the Salamander has three stages: Salamander, Drake, and then Dragon. Khan's Salamander completes his evolution into a Dragon and we see an epic fight between the two, but...there are some explanations missing here for why Ignatius did not complete his evolution and the result of his confrontations with Khan's Dragon (not going further due to spoilers!).

This last matter illustrates one of the two big frustrations of this novel -- the unresolved questions. Here are some for kicks: What really happened to Fletcher's mom and how does she recover? What about the rest of Fletcher's training, and how is this training not important to this war they've found themselves embroiled in? Is Ignatius going to be a Dragon? What is Ignatius's fulfillment level? What about the forbidden elf/human relationship between Sylva and Fletcher? What about the fate of Ignatius and Athena? (And on a minor note, Sylva's Griffin?)

These questions go hand-in-hand with the other problem of the novel - that of the too-fast pace. It feels rushed. This epic war battle was resolved in about two chapters and then the Epilogue was also very quick. We don't feel a satisfying resolution to the question of King Harold's traitorous father, the betrayal of Didric, and what happens to the rest of the orcs/goblins/Khan/Dragon. What about the politics of the realm? What happens to the relations between the dwarves/humans/elves? It could have launched into another book and if things were covered at all, they're so quick you have trouble remembering what happened. So that too, raises the real question, does this series continue or was this, the end of the proposed trilogy, the END? The Outcast, the Prequel, returns to a young Arcturus and recently came out in early May 2018. As of now, there are no other announcements for the series.

With all this criticism, Kara, are you sure you liked this book at all? YES! I really do like this series and I found it a delight to read. Like a light, middle grade Lord of the Rings plus magic school element plus Pokémon. I enjoyed this third book, but didn't like the last 2-3 chapters because it ran away with itself. My favorite parts in the book were about the new villagers of Raleightown and their adventure at rebuilding. I'm still sad it had to be abandoned almost immediately. :( I'm looking forward to reading the prequel and seeing what else pops up from Matharu.

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.


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