MAGEFALL by Stephen Aryan.

MAGEFALL by Stephen Aryan,

Orbit, paperback edition £9.99

Reviewed by Shona Kinsella

Magefall is the second book in the Age of Dread Trilogy, which follows on from the events of the Age of Darkness Trilogy – so be warned, there will be some unavoidable spoilers for previous books in this review. If you haven’t read those, you might want to do that first. I have not read the Age of Darkness trilogy, so for anyone who is new to Stephen Aryan’s work, you can start with the second trilogy and it stands alone well enough for you to feel like you know what’s going on. As with most books though, you’ll probably get more out of it if you start at the beginning.

Magefall picks up a very short time after the events at the end of Mageborn. Mages are feared and distrusted across most of the western kingdoms, the red tower has fallen, and the magical community is in chaos.

Ever since the war, people have distrusted magic, outcasting any who are touched by it. When there was a school to send such people to, that wasn’t so bad, but now there’s nowhere and children are going missing.

Garvey, an enigmatic and cruel teacher from the red tower, leads a band of students on a murderous rampage across multiple countries.

Wren sets up a community of magic users trying to find a different way to live – amongst others like them, without living in fear or hiding their connection to the Source. The safety of their group is threatened when murderous bandits start harassing the towns and villages nearby.

Balfruss works with the newly appointed Khevassar to rein in Garvey and counter the influence of Akosh, a mysterious being who has been working behind the scenes to stir up hatred of magic users, all for her own ends. Munroe, blinded by grief, is on a collision course with Akosh. What happens when the most powerful mage in the world faces off with a god?

The story is fast paced and well-written, I couldn’t put it down and was disappointed when I got to the end and realised that I have months to wait before I can find out what happens next. The characters are all fairly well-developed containing layers to them that are revealed as the story progresses. I especially enjoyed both Wren and Tianne’s story arcs in this book. We see both girls coming into themselves, really finding out who they are and what they’re capable of, both willing to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

The evolution of Danoph’s magic is very well handled and his story line left be eager to read the next book and find out more about his past.

There’s a lot going on in this book. It can be, by turns brutal, heart-warming and cleverly plotted. As always when reviewing the middle book in a trilogy, it’s hard to say too much without giving away details of the previous book and the story is not yet complete, so the arcs remain unfinished. I’m looking forward to August 2019 when the final instalment is released and I’ll be watching out for more work by Stephen Aryan.