Darkmage is the first novel of M.L. Spencer and kicks off the Rhenwars Saga. It starts with a series of betrayals, death, and destruction, leaving the MC, Darien, in a situation where he’s the last living mage. His order now dead, and stuck in a vow of non-violence, Darien is forced into a lot of difficult situations where he needs to look out for not only himself but also the people of his homeland.
The book had a slowish start after the first few chapters, and it took me a while to get into it. There were a couple of pacing issues around the first part of the book as it started off quite fast paced and then dropped back dramatically after the inciting incident, before picking back up. While I had some issues with the first part, the second half of the book made up for it and did a great job of wrapping the book together.
The worldbuilding is well done; bits of information are slowly provided over the course of the book. There are some interesting developments in regards to different religions, cities, and beliefs throughout. I particularly like Spencer’s magic system. Powers passed from master to acolyte on the event of their death, they’re very strong and take a “vow of harmony” to do no harm so they don’t go crazy with power.
My favourite thing about this book is Spencer’s character development. She takes good people and forces them into bad situations to see how they react. Over the course of Darkmage, characters change significantly as their situation demands of them and not always for the better. Characters go about reaching their goals with single-minded determination, and in some cases will do whatever it takes to attain them. It makes for some really interesting scenes as protagonists debate what they should do, and what their end goal is worth.
Overall, a really good read. It picks up around the halfway mark and the end is very well done. I’d recommend it to people who like:
- Character development
- Darker stories
- Interesting magic