The Dragon Hunter and the Mage by V.R. Cardoso

Magic can make you invincible, if it doesn’t get you killed first.

Aric and Fadan are half-brothers. Both sons of the Empress, but only one of them the son of the Emperor. A decade ago, Fadan’s powerful father tore the Empire in two by outlawing the use and practice of magic. Forbidden from seeing each other, Aric and Fadan defy the Emperor and wander the vast Imperial Citadel until one night, they stumble upon an ancient Manual of Magic. They are faced with a choice: take the book straight to the Emperor or see if one of them has the forbidden magical Talent. Their world is turned upside down and the half-brothers find themselves swept away as tragedy and conspiracy separate them, sending each to either end of the Empire. In a world of dark mages, massive creatures, and vengeful gods, one will train as a Dragon Hunter while the other taps into magical powers that could spell his execution.
Dark forces are moving in the shadows and no one in the Empire is ready for what’s to come. Will Aric and Fadan survive to ever see each other again?”

The Dragon Hunter and the Mage is a pretty interesting take on the coming-of-age story – here our plot revolves around the fate of two half-brothers, brought up together but in very different circumstances. Aric is the first born son of Cassia and her first husband, Doric Auron. However, there’s a weird situation in which the Emperor, Tarsus, has forced Cassia to marry him in exchange for sparing Doric and Aric’s lives – she doesn’t love him, but acts as a dutiful wife nonetheless. While the Emperor does appear to love Cassia in a rather unhealthy, possessive way, he treats Aric like garbage. He keeps the boy separate from his mother as much as possible, and refuses to allow him to be trained with weapons or properly educated. Fadan is Aric’s half brother by Cassia and Tarsus, and Aric is forbidden to speak with him beyond a passing hello, but the boys frequently sneak off to spend time together and have a surprisingly good relationship with no resentment between them.

On one of their sneaky excursions, the boys find a book of magic. This is massively, hugely forbidden in this world. The Emperor ordered a total purge of all magic users some years ago (some of which we witness in the prologue) which was really brutal and resulted in many deaths, and the total destruction of all magic schools. So naturally the boys are like HELL YEAH MAGIC and start trying to learn, because teenagers.

Hey, it made perfect sense to me.

Feeling unhappy for her first son, Cassia requests that he be allowed to visit his father. She means well, but as a result of this meeting events transpire that cause the Emperor to decide that the boys need to be permanently separated. He sends Aric away to train to be a Dragon Hunter, knowing this to be an extremely dangerous profession that will likely result in his death. However, Dragon Hunters trade in Runium, a substance made with dragon’s blood that aids Mages with their casting. Meanwhile Fadan remains at the castle with his secret magic book and I’m sure you can piece together where this might be headed.

It’s a super good-natured book, and while Tarsus is a real piece of work, most of the characters are way more patient, kind and accepting of their situation than I would be in their positions. More than is realistic, if I’m honest, but I’ll give it a pass because it was nice to see the half-brothers really care about one another without moping around like Jon Snow, full of anger, resentment or feelings of unearned superiority given their stations in life. Cassia does have some moments of sadness and trepidation but if I were her I’d be plotting to poison the Emperor’s wine, seeing how badly he treated Aric. It is, at its heart, a YA adventure so I think the innocence isn’t really a problem.

There’s some really nice worldbuilding along the way, and once Aric starts his Dragon Hunter training there’s a solid rivalry arc and a good foil for his character with a smattering of teenage romance. Fadan is the more naïve of the two and this plays out in ways that will have you yelling at him not to be an idiot, but I rather enjoyed that. Overall I think that I wasn’t the target audience for this one, but I could see younger readers loving it and for them I’d highly recommend it.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Bingo Squares 2018

  • Self-Published
  • Fewer than 2500 GR Ratings

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