Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review: The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: The Paper Magician #3
Genre: Historical/Fantasy
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Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own — an ability long thought impossible.

While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.

Do I ask for too much out of series finales? Do I? Just because I want a book that does those that went before justice while, just maybe, building to a great ending. Is it too much? Yet again, I was happy with the first couple books, but this finale was disappointing.

Ceony, someone that I actually liked back in the first book, turned into a petulant little brat in this book. Part of the plot was there to keep her away from Emery - by studying with another magician - and all it really served to do was allow her to sneak out without explanation and act like a shrew. (And also that was completely unneeded because there is no way any unbiased person could accuse the tester of having bias or favoritism with the way the test was set up.)

I won't even get into the spoileriffic bad decisions that she made concerning her magic but, speaking of her magic…

I love the magic in this series. I think it's very cool and inventive. The best thing about the first book was Ceony having to figure out how to get things done with less powerful magic. And, even a certain magicians battle that she fought in. She couldn't overpower her opponent using powerful magic. She had to think and strategize and figure out how she could use her obviously weaker magic to win. That was great. In this book, however, all that is thrown out the window when Ceony becomes this super powerful magician. It was very dissatisfying and felt like now there was nothing she couldn't do. (I've always had problems with those uber powerful characters, anyway.)

Now, back to Ceony and my problems with her. Breaking a promise - which, it should go without saying, is something that there needs to at least be repercussions for - she sets out to kill a man. No, I am not exaggerating. She decides that he is 'undeserving of mercy' and sets out, planning to kill him.

Really, Ceony, who made you judge, jury and executioner?

"I've come to put you down," Ceony growled.

And quit acting like a rabid dog. Oh, wait, no, sorry. You're killing the rabid dog. Right, Ceony?

I found Ceony likable in the first two books, although even the second was starting to show signs of…something I didn't like. But her character in this book…it doesn't even feel like the same character. Ceony of the past was headstrong, stubborn and determined. Ceony of The Master Magician is hotheaded, short tempered and foolhardy.

But, then again, without Ceony making those foolhardy decisions, there'd be no plot.

Keeping calm, as Delilah had always complimented her for doing…

Okay, either she was being ironic or Delilah didn't know Ceony at all, because calm is very far from what this girl usually is.

I know that this book is supposed to take place two years after the first one, but I can't help but feel like the romance is moving too quickly. (Maybe because we didn't really see it develop from a kiss into what it is in this book.) Also, though the age difference doesn't really bother me, there feels like an imbalance of power in this story. I mean, Emery starts a series of 'love letters' by writing 'nothing like jam and cold bread to make a man appreciate a woman' and Ceony ends it by sending him a kiss with lipstick on paper. Seriously, what is up with that? To me, Ceony has a schoolgirl crush on her teacher. While they are cute, there needs to be a more solid foundation for me to feel the romance. (It also doesn't help that Emery is practically the only man Ceony interacts with and Ceony the only woman Emery interacts with.)

Now, finally, a bit of old-fashioned ideals that I actually didn't notice in the first two books. (Yeah, okay, I did notice the 'a man that can't cook needs a wife' in the second(?) book that caused a bit of a stir online, but it didn't bother me like these did.)

There's another Magician having a romantic relationship with her Apprentice. Ceony cued in on that word and seemed surprised by it. She wondered at their age. I'm sorry. I probably wasn't supposed to take that the way I did, but, really? Ceony, are you so old-fashioned to think that the woman can't be older than the man? (Then again, the answer is probably yes, because it wasn't uncommon for fifteen year old girls to marry men in their thirties.)

Also, Ceony was called a maid because she 'cooks, cleans and fold Emery's laundry.' Her defense is that yes, she does all those things, but she wants to and it doesn't make her maidly. Uh, actually, yes, it does. She might not be his maid, but doing those things are maidly. Ceony's an apprentice and, apparently, is kept more busy with minutia work than Emery and she also has her magic practice and lessons. And she still finds time to keep house for Emery. Good on ya, girl. But…what, exactly, does Emery do?

"You are a woman, Miss Twill. We are beginning to have more leverage in today's society, especially as magicians. There are dozens of promising career choices for you, but Criminal Affairs is no place for a mother."

But, is it a place for a father? (Indeed, there's lots more wrong with that statement, but that's the one that jumped out at me.)

"I guess I didn't think you were that kind of woman." (Said as an insult because Ceony just kissed/was kissed by Emery in public.) Honestly, for the first time ever (or at least, in this book) I agreed with Ceony because I too wanted to know 'what kind of woman.' Apparently she has been getting herself a name as a bit of fluff.


All in all, another lackluster finale.