Rise of the Magi

6.7 Overall Score
Concepts: 9/10
Story/Cast: 7/10
Writing/Editing: 4/10

Gorgeous artwork, Cool characters, Strong appeal to RPG fans, Rich symbolism

Poor editing, Grammatical and writing technicalities

Rise of the Magi

Author: Randy Blackwell Jr.

Publisher: Lamplight Media

Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Steampunk, Speculative Fiction

Story10371378_10152542203617074_303152551572741749_n

Scientist and entrepreneur, Omar Metzger, is on the verge of unraveling the mystery of inter-dimensional travel. His determination to prove his research to the government is surpassed only by his growing concern for his comatose sister, who he believes is mentally and spiritually trapped within one of these alternative dimensions. When the government decides to cut his funding, Omar chooses to test his hypothesis on himself and enters the portal to another dimension. If he can only prove the significance of his findings to the government, they’ll resume his funding and perhaps he’ll be able to save his sister in the process.

Enter Myles Callaghan—illusionist, con-artist, and extraordinary man of many talents and aliases. After cheating a local Mafia Don out of several million dollars, Myles finds himself on the run from the Don’s henchmen. In a desperate attempt to escape, he dives into a life-saving hidey-hole, only to discover that he’s thrown himself into an inter-dimensional portal. Now trapped in a seemingly endless maze, Myles must use his illusionist knowledge to crack the maze’s code and escape.

For mercenary assassin, Kasey, eliminating the Israeli Prime10422095_10152542203592074_3826160178583990593_n Minister is all in a day’s work. But when the mission backfires, Kasey finds herself the one being hunted. After a hasty escape to the Prime Minister’s basement, she uncovers a hidden archway and crosses through to another dimension.

With their paths destined to cross, Omar, Myles, and Kasey must join forces in order to survive in the alternative reality world known as Musterion. Whilst Omar and Myles combine their scientific and illusionist abilities in order to impress the denizens and form the Order of the Magi, Kasey must seek out the Sword of the Spirit and deliver it to a lowly carpenter, as prophesied. But with the Great Red Dragon and his arch-demons threatening the trio’s every effort, the fate of Musterion seems shrouded with uncertainty.

The Rise of a Franchise

The first thing that Rise of the Magi does (and does well) is snag your eyes with its fantastical cover. The artwork certainly appeals to the fantasy/steampunk crowd, and fans of RPG, video games, and even anime will likely be turning the novel over for a back-cover synopsis. This is a franchise that has already spread to tabletop RPG games, artbooks, and a sequel, with future plans in the works.

10386783_10152542203607074_2612610884865863555_nThat being said, the novel does—in fact—read rather strikingly like an RPG, and fans of series like Dragonlance are likely to enjoy it. The combat follows a give-and-take flow, and the writing style is very straightforward, coming across as more of a narrative than a story. The characters are daring newcomers to the speculative fiction genre, and everything from their elaborate clothing to their personalities reflects the role-playing subculture. When reading Myles’ lines, for example, Troy Baker’s voice immediately leaped into my head and stayed there until I’d finished the last page.

It’s clear that the author has a lot of love for his creation. Blackwell brings Musterion to life with a plethora of mystical inhabitants and fantastical happenings. There’s also a lot of symbolism and allegory to be found, with several illusions to the Bible, for example, which makes Rise of the Magi a treat for perceptive readers. Unlike some speculative fiction, the characters in Rise of the Magi are deliciously flawed, and it’s rewarding to see each of them battle with—and overcome—their personal, inner demons.

The Grammatical Demons

Kasey

Unfortunately, where Rise of the Magi doesn’t… er… rise is in its writing and editing. The novel is almost exclusively told with very little shown. As I mentioned before, this causes the novel to read more like a narrative and less like a story at times. Rather than describing the physical and mental taxation of a character’s emotions, for example, the story simply says, “[Character’s name] was [insert emotion] because [insert cause].” Large portions of the book are dedicated to “info-dumping,” where the author “catches readers up” on character back-stories instead of gradually working this information into the plot. Some of these back-stories seem a tad far-fetched.

The POV (point-of-view) is very unstable, often switching from one character to the next in a sentence’s time. While some reader’s inner editor may not be bothered by this, I found that it detracted from the ability to immerse myself in the character on-page. The result (for me at least) was that a lot of emotional, intense moments felt downplayed, and threats often felt less threatening than they should have.

Structurally and grammatically, Rise of the Magi suffers from missing punctuation, repeated words and phrases, inconsistent formatting, and misplaced grammar. If you’re a grammar junkie, and the sight of a colon—where a semi-colon should be—makes you want to whip out your red editing pen, then Rise of the Magi may not be for you.

Conclusion: Only the Beginning

Rise of the Magi ends with the promise of more to come, and, so far, the franchise has certainly capitalized on that promise. Already, a sequel and RPG-book/artbook have been released, and rumor has it there’s plans to push the series into other mediums, including a graphic novel adaption.

m1The artwork is truly astounding. It’s a shame the writing quality of the novel itself doesn’t quite match. Rise of the Magi could definitely benefit from a re-write/re-release in order to pull in its more critical audience of editor-readers. Fans who enjoy novels based on role-playing games, such as Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, will probably want to give Rise of the Magi a look. It’s a unique entry to the RPG scene with its parallelisms to Christianity and its rich symbolism.

And should the franchise ever cross into an anime adaption, I’ll be the first to nominate Troy Baker as the voice of Myles Callaghan.

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To learn more about the Rise of the Magi, check out the franchise’s official website.

You can purchase Rise of the Magi on Amazon here.

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Author: Casey Covel View all posts by
Casey Lynn Covel (known online as “Cutsceneaddict”) is an award-winning, published writer, avid reader, and aspiring author. She runs a nerdy writing blog called Meek-Geek and founded PROJECT: Magic Kingdom Hearts in 2012. When she’s not writing for Geeks Under Grace, Florida Geek Scene, Beneath the Tangles, or FROM JAPAN, she enjoys cosplaying, and has won several awards for her work. Follow her on Instagram for her latest cosplay endeavors. #meekischic

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