SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 605 Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, edited by G.W. Thomas Book Review |

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Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, edited by G.W. Thomas
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Ragemachine Books
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 6/18/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, edited by G.W. Thomas

Book Review by David A. Olson

Have you read this book?

Long ago, the Thieves' World collected together some of the world's best fantasy authors to write in a shared universe. As is the natural consequence of one success, a lot of lesser knockoffs appeared, eventually killing the market for shared worlds. Then came the internet--a noble place where people could share information freely. It was there that G.W. Thomas met with others to create a new shared world: Magistria.

The first collection they produced, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer contains fourteen stories and is printed by Lulu, which is a POD (Publish On Demand). I was leery of this at first, but enjoyed reading one of the authors in the collection, so I laid down my money to buy the book. I was surprised at the quality of stories in this collection (not to mention the atmospheric artwork of Mats Minnhagen which is scattered throughout). These are not simple magic tales of wizards shooting fireballs at each other, although the spell casters do fight in many of the stories. They ponder questions like how far would an apprentice go to become a Master, or what would an Ice Goddess want?

Despite numerous typos and many of the stories having slow openings, I enjoyed this collection and would recommend it to anyone who loves to read about wizards.

The stories are listed here starting with the ones I liked best and working down.

"The Metal Mages" by Robert Burke Richardson: A boy follows a girl who was sacrificed up a mountain to save her from the metal mages. Two shocking surprises await the reader at the conclusion of this short, gripping tale. I hope that this story's plot line is followed up on in the future books planned for this anthology. Could make for some exciting sequels!

"Bring me Three Severed Heads" by Lawrence Barker: Four apprentice death mages are tasked by their dead master to kill each other. Although it had some problems, the mind-boggling conclusion really sets the tone for the collection.

"Storm Warning" by Lillian Csernica: A water mage seeks revenge on the air mage who killed her sister's children. The ending to this story is as twisted as "Bring Me Three Severed Heads," but in a very different way.

"In This Sleep of Death" by Robert J. Santa: A dream mage is saved by a fire mage, but doesn't thank him, causing a hatred between them. The greatest strength of this story was its characters, especially the dream mage who acted laugh out loud funny several times. The ending was a bit unexpected, and I'm still not sure exactly what happened.

"The Soul of the Ice" by Jack Hillman: A young boy strangely survives a mile-wide avalanche, and later leads a noble up the mountain on a hunting expedition to kill something worthy of his position. This story is filled with wonderful prose that is fun to read aloud, and although the protagonist overcomes no great obstacles, it is a nice exploration of desire.

"The Glass Elephant's Prison" by Ben Peek: Two cursed men try to regain their memory. A few threads still hang loose at the conclusion, but I found the tale engrossing.

"In Beneath the Black Ice" by Joshua Reynolds: A death, metal, and ice mage fight in this tale. As if that weren't enough, a horrifying demon appears. I loved it until the end where I felt everything was wrapped up to quickly.

"The Chronicles of Helmar and Jukka: The Loremaster's Warning" by Robert Bee: A story that is reminiscent of Norse legends that follows an apprentice as he tries to help his master prevent giants from returning to the world. Although I didn't find the surprise at the end of this story surprising, I enjoyed the tale because the characters were interesting and easy to identify with.

"The Singer and the Song" by Jack Mackenzie: A man, who can sing with such perfection that it can cause a heart to stop, knows who he loves, and that she belongs to another. I thought this story was disjointed until the last third which pulled everything together in a powerful way.

"The Princess Beneath the Sand" by K. A. Patterson, the editor of Alienskin: A young woman searches the desert for an moving oasis that will grant her a wish to save her city from a threatening army. Karen sets the desert scene well, perhaps too well since the story takes a while to start. The ending was a bit of a surprise, although all the details were there if I'd just put them together.

"Mage Fire by the editor, G. W. Thomas: A army of death mage and their creatures attack a group of forest mages to expand their swamp. There seems to be a strong similarity between the death mages and the forest mages, in that they both effectively give their people no free will: One group having zombies and the other controlling the emotions of the living. However the ending of this story doesn't capitalize on this and instead goes with feel good ending.

"Heartwood Oakenlife" by Andrew C. Ferguson: A woman melds with a tree to escape from being murdered by soldiers. The unique point of view in this story was refreshing, but it made the protagonist hard to relate to.

"Swords in the Waves: A Tale of Dog Company" by Christopher Sloan: A group of mage hunters hunt for a particularly capable wizard. This is a classic sword and sorcery tale which I felt made no attempts to escape it genre.

"Seedlings" by Joy V. Smith: Forest mages fend off an attack by some evil old man (I never understood exactly who they were fighting). Sadly, numerous jumps in time and the complicated setting made this story hard to follow. By the end, I didn't identify with any character enough to care whether they lived or died.
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