Thursday, 27 November 2014

Book Review: The Glass Magician

THE GLASS MAGICIAN by Charlie N. Holmberg
5 stars
Verdict: Like book one? You’ll love book 2!
#1 - The Paper Magician
#3 - The Master Magician

Here's the blurb:

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

I loved the first book and found it a charming read, but it did have various flaws that meant I had to knock it down a star. This time I began THE GLASS MAGICIAN with a clean slate, ready to accept the rushed romance of book 1. I was pleasantly surprised that the main character, Ceony, brought up this issue in her own thoughts. I felt a bit like Holmberg understood the potential flaw and knew she couldn’t change it without wrecking the story – I’m not going to hold a grudge. I really do think this is a great read.

Ceony continues to learn her command over paper. The world building in book one was a little limited, but for book two we venture outwards into a paper mill at first, although here we meet those who can control glass, fire, and other elements, and finally get to experience what the other magicians and apprentices can do. The structure of magic and the law became a lot clearer too. The world Ceony lives in becomes a lot easier to understand.

At the start, I felt the story took a rather predictable turn, and we a handful of new characters who don’t play a huge role in this novel and weren’t shown in a particularly interesting light. But once over that ridge, the pace picks up and the originality factor starts to seep through once more.

There’s no superficial action this time round either – Ceony truly faces a hard battle against a new character, an alleged Excisioner named Grath, and she finally meets her match. Her head strong ways that led her to victory in the prequel come back to bite her and cause her more trouble than she can handle.

But don't think that Ceony steals all the fun. This time round I enjoyed seeing Emery Thane in action. No longer sidelined, Emery shows how powerful and smart he can be, as well as respected and still quirky. I’m starting to understand the strengths of paper a little more, too, and more pieces of the Lira puzzle are slipping into place.

Now there is something I'm sweeping under the rug. I still don’t agree with the romance element. I don’t feel the chemistry. I get the feeling that Ceony has a crush and Emery is fond of his apprentice. But romantic love? It just doesn’t feel right, and the age gap doesn't help. The only good thing about the disconnected romance is that it’s not a big deal. Thankfully, Ceony isn't one to pine. I actually like that it causes conflict between Ceony and Magician Aviosky, bringing out the supervisors character and adding another layer to the story.

And the good bits outweigh the bad - I found it hard for my niggles to bring me down when reading this.

What makes this book special is the originality, the charm, the characters, and the quirkiness. Its got a hold over me that I can’t quite pinpoint. I love the style of the covers and the style of the writing, and Ceony brings the adventure to life. Based on recommendation alone, I would give it five stars. It feels like it will become a classic, and never again will I read a series quite like this one.

The ending is what really won it for me. I won’t say much, except I was impressed. Action packed, clever, and fits so well – Holmberg has nailed it with this one.

All my doubts about the series from book 1 have disintegrated (minus the romance – I’m looking the other way on that one). This is a brilliant sequel, and I can’t wait for the next instalment.