Review of Feast of Souls – Book 1 of Magister Trilogy by Celia Friedman

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Looking around for an honest, straightforward fantasy tale? Something vampire-free? A story smoothly told with intriguing characters and an interesting magical set-up that makes you want to track down the next book in the series? Then this might well tick your boxes.

feastofsoulsMagisters from across the known world are gathering for an unusual meeting. King Aurelius has summoned them to heal his dying son, who has fallen victim to an incurable wasting disease. The King has demanded an explanation and a cure, yet appearances are deceptive. It’s clear to the initiated that a magister is responsible – but the Order remains quiet and organises a manhunt to silence the culprit.

And while men are distracted, strangeness is stirring in the world. An ancient evil is rising in the north, but the old warnings are long forgotten. Only those carrying the Protector bloodline feel fear and their numbers are few. So the powerful will soon find themselves playing a new and more dangerous game.  The magic in this world is hard won and those who wield it pay the highest price – or do they? Magisters are able to harness magical forces without burning up their own soulfire – and as such live a very long, long time, while witches are unable to attain their level of mastery. One witch, however, is determined to break the taboo and become the first female magister, ever. Will Kamala succeed in her ambition?

Friedman has been writing for a while – and it shows. Told in third person multiple viewpoints, her style is smooth and unfussy and her main characters are depicted with sufficient depth to keep the reader caring, without impeding the tempo of her narrative. All in all, it’s an accomplished, solid work. But for me, the defining aspect of this series is the world – which is unusual as I’m normally a sucker for a strong yet complicated protagonist. The setting up of the magical rules pulled me into the story and I found the necessary background in order to make it work was introduced effectively enough to be the page-turner for me.

I’m looking forward to reading the second in the series, The Wings of Wrath, and was pleased to see that the last book in the trilogy is scheduled to be published sometime next year.
8/10

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