Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for this copy of the Servant Mage by Kate Elliott. As always, I will provide you with an honest review.
They choose their laws to secure their power.
Fellian is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.
Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.
But Fellian has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…
I’m going to start this review off by saying that I have a soft spot for Kate Elliot. The Crown of Stars Series is some great reading if I do say so myself. That being said this book was not my favorite.
Fellian is a servant mage. A sort of indentured servant who is taken from her family and only taught the most basic of magic skills so as to be of use to the person who purchases her for work. When we first meet Fellian, she is engaged in an illegal activity, teaching someone how to read. When she is approached by those who appear to be soldiers, she knows her life will never be the same.
Fellian is swept away on an adventure knowing nothing about what’s happening, as a result, you as a reader know nothing about what’s going on as well. We learn as Fellian learns. And I found myself as frustrated as Fellian was by the little bits and pieces that she was being fed.
The other characters weren’t particularly compelling. This could be partly because of how Fellian sees them, but I feel they might have been more interesting if I felt any of the urgency towards saving them that she did.
I did find the magic system fascinating. It is elemental based, but not the same way we have seen in the past. For example, Fellian is a fire mage, she can create Lamps of light to guide the way, and Water mages can change their appearance. I enjoyed that each mage had a part to play, but I wish the gifts they possessed had been explored a little more.
Part of my issue with this book is because it is a novella. I found the plot to be interesting, but it could have benefited from some more fleshed-out world-building. What we do see of the world is intriguing, but not enough to hold my attention (full disclosure, I had COVID and COVID fog is real, but that wasn’t the full issue) for very long.
The ending was interesting. It was predictable, but not, all at the same time. You knew what was going to happen, but the reasons why were left a mystery until the very end.
After all was said and done, I had to give this book two stars.