The Wings of Wrath (The Magister Trilogy) by Celia Friedman

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The Wings of Wrath (The Magister Trilogy) by Celia Friedman

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A very well paced story that draws you in and ever onwards. Like the first part, it's not overly descriptive writing, but the quality of the story does help to put that aside.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841495330

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The first part of Celia Friedman's Magister trilogy was a wonderfully dark piece of fantasy. It contained some beasts you wouldn't be surprised to come across in a horror novel and stretched the idea of magic being a draining power to an interesting place psychologically. The second part, Wings of Wrath is more of a straight fantasy novel, lacking some of the horror elements that made the first part such a draw for me, but it's still a very good read.

It is a time of great change in the High Kingdom. King Danton Aurelius is dead, as is his son, Prince Andovan, who was drained of his life source by the magister Kamala as she fought a soul-eater. For her part, Kamala is in hiding, as she has committed the worst crime a magister can by killing one of her own kind. Even without this, she's a bit of a freak of nature, defying the belief that no woman would be strong enough to become a magister and wield the power they have.

Meanwhile, the soul-eaters and their consorts are planning an excursion from the frozen North into the warmer climes they once controlled before being banished and imprisoned by the Wrath. The Wrath itself is losing its power and when Rhys is sent to investigate, he discovers that the Alkali, one of the peoples meant to be watching and guarding it, have become corrupted by its power. The new king of the High Kingdom, Salvator, returns from a life as a penitent monk to take the throne and the Free States, as well as others, are looking to take advantage of a new king, unused to the worlds of the monarchy and of politics.

The aspect of the story that stood out most for me was the pacing. It started off quite slowly, mostly concentrating on the political ramifications of Salvator's ascendance to the throne. So much so that I thought early on that this was going to turn into quite a dull book. Friedman, however, is more skilled than that and as the story advanced, the pace picked up and towards the end, I was losing myself more and more in events and found myself quite surprised by how pages I had read in a sitting, as nothing early on in the book prepared me for that level of involvement.

This is especially surprising considering that the characters aren't especially likeable. Admittedly, the Magisters are cold and arrogant, holding themselves apart from the rest of the world in the belief that their power makes them superior, but there seemed very little to like about many of the others as well. Kamala, in particular, seemed to be turning more into one of the Magisters as she used her power more. Whilst Queen Gwynofar's part of the story became very emotional towards the end, in what was a great piece of writing, her sympathies earlier on seemed to be more for the throne of her country than care for how her son would cope or grieving the loss of her husband and other son.

There is still not a great deal of descriptive quality to the book, either. Admittedly, it is better in this regard than Feast of Souls, the first in the trilogy, as there is better use of colour, but it was still difficult to get a real feel for places and how characters looked. I got the same impression from the map, which was missing from the first volume, but included here. However, I didn't feel that either the map or anything in the story gave any sense of scale or distance. Maybe this is because the armies are used to transporting themselves to the frontline of a war by magic that the world portrayed here has lost that sense of scale.

Whilst the physical description may not have been great, there were some very powerful emotional scenes. Siderea's seduction of various characters was almost lovingly written and the ending in particular was very moving. I did miss the psychological side of things from the first book, with Kamala no longer wrestling her conscience over her magic, but I did feel that some of the emotional scenes helped make up for this loss.

What Friedman has done to me here is something I've noticed more and more with recent fantasy trilogies. She may have left me feeling a little non-committal about the trilogy after the first part, but with the second, she has certainly whet my appetite for more. She has left the trilogy at this part with the end approaching, but far enough away that you sense there is much of interest to come. It may not be the perfect book, but it's one where the story is more than good enough to cover any shortfalls in other areas.

I would like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you like your fantasy with a dark twist, check out Russell Kirkpatrick's Broken Man trilogy.

Buy The Wings of Wrath (The Magister Trilogy) by Celia Friedman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wings of Wrath (The Magister Trilogy) by Celia Friedman at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Wings of Wrath (The Magister Trilogy) by Celia Friedman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wings of Wrath (The Magister Trilogy) by Celia Friedman at Amazon.com.


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