My book journal #2 – Sorcerous Rivalry by Kayleigh Nicol

Thank you Kayleigh for this opportunity to review your debut novel – Sorcerous rivalry (Book one of the mage-born chronicles) .  When I saw your request for honest reviews in the goodreads forum ‘Good reviews’, my first thought was – Man! Genre- Fantasy? Not really my forte. But another aspect of the book soon pulled me into this venture, the other bookshelf to which this novel was tagged – LGBTQ.

Hailing from a country where LGBTQ community is still struggling to make their voices heard, pleas to legalize their very existence and sexuality goes unnoticed,this book and its protogonist came as a heart warming experience to me. I enjoyed how Reshi, the central character was portrayed as a funny and easy going person. He has no craving for throne or powers. He prefers to hide from his enemies rather than fight them.  He believes in his animal instincts more than training or sword fights. Being the youngest of the mage born, he is also the weakest and least ambitious. The easiest prey to kill, but the hardest to find.In his own words, “I just injured myself in a barn. What do you think I would do to myself around actual weapons?” He has many things to hide from the world, but definitely his sexual orientation is not one of them. Author unabashedly shows us a world that is more inclusive than the real world we live in.

Story unfolds around Reshi and his six siblings-all mage born; fleeing from their father(the king), mage hunters and each other; some just to live and others to claim the throne. Each mage has a talent and a way to replenish their magical powers. The interesting and innovative ways in which each sibling uses their power was a treat to read. Another central character in the story is Kestral, an ex-army man who is currently in the trail for mages in reward for bounties.

Author gives us even the minute details about each character – their pasts, upbringing, magic, insecurities , thoughts and even weaknesses. There were clear cut differences yet tiny similarities between the siblings, which stands as gnawing truths reminding us that these mages fighting with each other were after all one family.“If Laurana’s kids keep killing each other, there aren’t going to be any bounties for you hunters to collect.”

I think it was an intelligent move from the author to use her knowledge about animals to give more life to Reshi’s character. Scenes like the one where Reshi flies as a crow and suddenly feels the animal instinct to collect something shiny startled me. That was remarkable attention to detail from the author.

The narration was also funny at most instances, even in between battles.Some of the scenes I enjoyed the most were between Shan, the horse and Reshi bickering at each other.

But above all, it is the emotional side of the story that kept me captivated. Pasts of Reshi and Kestral, their insecurities and subtle ways of loving each other, sometimes in ignorance but mostly in full knowledge, got me hooked to the story. I ended up rooting for both of them. How could I resist myself , if they are the kind to say: “If you keep moving and talking, you aren’t going to get the chance to heal.” “Why not? You going to sleep somewhere else? ” “No. I’m going to kill you.”

That said I must confess there were some areas of narration that confused me as a reader. It was not entirely a problem with author’s story telling skills.My inefficiency in reading and comprehending could also have been the reason.

Firstly, it took me a long while to figure out the gender of the protagonist. Since the story was told in first person and Reshi often shape shifts to animal forms there were very few instances where he is addressed directly. My actual moment of enlightenment came  when Cera remarks “You have such beautiful eyes, my brother.” On re-reading I figured out that there were subtle hints like “Not all of us guys are into that, you know” or “Here you boys are.” But it did put me off in the first read.

Secondly, I had trouble with understanding the characteristics of magical creatures first time they were introduced, like pigoblins or slags. As I already mentioned I’m not an avid fantasy reader. So I don’t mind reading about them a bit more in detail. For examples, when pigoblins first came to the scene they were physically described in detail. But very less was told about their magical powers other than the fact that they kill fairies.

Another area where I craved for more detail is why each mage has his or her set of powers. Story clearly tells us why each mage has their mode of restoration of energy.But doesn’t say anything about say, why Reshi is a shape-shifter or how he knows so much about animal life. It also doesn’t tell us why Reshi values so much about animals’ way of living their lives. Is it because he is a shape-shifter? Or is he a shape-shifter because it is part of his character or upbringing? I hope the second book in the series will throw more light into this area.

As I finished the book, I ended up asking the writer how many more books she was planning in the series. I felt a little sad when she told me she is planning only one more book in the series. But I’m hopeful about her plan to write a short story collection based on the characters in this series. More than who kills whom or who claims the throne, it was my obsession over Reshi and Kestral that forced me to ask that question.

From author’s blog I could see that she is currently in the editing phase of her second book. I wish her good luck with her series and I hope I will get to hear the little tales behind why each mage sibling was gifted with that particular power, who will be the last one or ones of the mage-born siblings  to survive. But above all I want to know what happens to Kestral and Reshi in the end. 😉

Thank you Kayleigh for showing me that even fantasy stories could be so emotional. 🙂 I’m definitely going to explore more books from this genre.

Read more about the book at :

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