Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rotten Magic by Jeffrey Bardwell - Book Review

Devin will do anything to win. Even resort to magic!

Devin competes to become the best artificer in the mage phobic Iron Empire. Who needs magic when you can master the art of machinery? The other apprentices envy his genius and skills . . . especially Benson. Every apprentice hones their craft building and fighting in crude prototypes of powered armor. Some add frills, others barbs or horns. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer.

But Devin harbors a secret as he claws his way to the top of the Artificer's Guild: he's a mage. These new abilities are thrilling and frightening, and the voices more so. How long can Devin be content wearing a steel dragon mask when the seductive promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?

Experience the novella prequel to the Artifice Mage Saga: a fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody's hands are clean.

Buy Links
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My Review
Rotten Magic is a sort of prequel to the main series of books, known as the Artiface Mage Saga, by Jeffrey Bardwell.

Rotten Magic tells the story of Devin, who is a young apprentice with the Artifacer's Guild. The only problem is, Devin has a secret he can't share with anyone. Only his little sister, Misera, knows he can do "something special" with his hands, and it's not creating machines to help the Guards or anyone else.

Devin is also part of a game played by fellow Guild members, but he happens to be the villain rather than one of the heroes. However, he seems perfectly happy with that. He's always felt different, and being the villain lets him embrace that.

Later in the book, something Devin does (I won't spoil it) sets off the chain of events for the very end of the story that I assume segues into the beginning of the first book in the series.

Overall, the book isn't a bad read. It's a new take on steampunk fantasy, with machines, magic, and mayhem. Dragons seem to be Devin's obsession, hence his desire to create a machine that shoots flames.

The plot is a bit slow to start, but I found myself rushing through the book once I got about 1/4 of the way in. It picks up, and you find yourself curious to see where the story is going to go, and how it's going to end.

The characters aren't super well-developed, but they're not completely one-dimensional. I did think their dialogue, at times, was a bit off. Like with Devin's mom. Some of the things she said didn't really seem like realistic "mom" dialogue, if you will. There are characters you will like, and some you won't, but they don't get a ton of development in the story.

There were also some editing errors I noticed, but I tried not to let them detract from the story.

Overall, not a bad read, and I'm curious to see where the series will lead readers. I give Rotten Magic 4 stars.

Author Bio
Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.

The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at: jhbardwell@gmail.com 

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