April 26, 2004
Book Review: Mage Heart

Mage Heart
by Jane Routley
hardcover from Avon, 1996
paperback from Avon, 2000

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this one up. I had bought it on a whim at a con, in hardcover, off a used book pile. It seemed interesting, but I'd never heard of the author or the title.

Starting it was difficult. The writing style and I didn't get along -- it has an almost formalized style that was difficult for me to get into. But then, once I did, we just rocketed along.

[spoilers behind the cut]

The book centers around Dion, the only female mage. She has heard of others, in other lands, but where she grew up, only the men are mages, and even her tutor (who selected her in order to prove women could become mages) never quite believed in her.

This leaves Dion at the beginning of the story as a young mage who has no belief in her own power, and a bit of a prude from a foreign land who has no idea how to fit into how things are done here. She is terrified of witch hunts. Terrified and yet fascinated by demons. And afraid of her new employer, who is the mistress of the Duke, and claims a necromancer wishes to kill her.

Throughout the story Dion grows, learns to trust, learns how to function within society. She learns that not everything she was told as a youngster is true, including about herself. She comes into her own with her power.

Once I really got into it, some of the politics reminded me of shades of Carey's works, like I was reading a distant predecessor of the style. Yes, this is a complement. The shades of romance, seen through the eyes of a 17 year old girl, become stronger throughout the novel, but I will tell you only that this is no mere romance novel. And if you expect it to be such, you will be surprised at the end.

Was it knock my socks off amazing? No. But it was fun, and an enjoyable read, and I'm glad I worked through the beginning rather than just set it aside and go on to something simpler. It was worth it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at April 26, 2004 06:55 PM | TrackBack
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