Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Battle Mage Battle Mage
by Stephen Aryan

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Battle Mage is the first novel of new author Stephen Aryan, and although the book promises it is the first in a series can easily be read as a standalone work.

Unsurprisingly from the title, Battle Mage is fantasy. What it is not, however, is the standard tale of swords and sorcery. The known world is divided between various kingdoms of humans and human-like creatures. These kingdoms rub along sporting religions that rise and fall with time as do the gods associated with those religions. If a god has no believers it dies. The gods manifest as people of the world with godly powers, but independently some people have innate magical ability. If those people are sufficiently well trained and in control of their abilities they can become battle mages – and outside of war pursue whatever occupation or hobby takes their interest.

Unfortunately for several countries one king, through a little divine meddling, has become deluded into believing he is a god reincarnate and has set out with the help of a skilled battle mage to conquer the known world. This book concerns the struggles of an opposing kingdom and the battle mage Balfruss in upending that ambition. There is also a side order of intra-deity conflict that adds spice to the main tale. To say more would introduce spoilers.

I found Battle Mage a worthy first work, containing well rounded main characters and interesting secondary characters. While the setting was not new the author had managed to conjure interesting variations on a well worked theme to make this book stand out. I shall be looking for the second book in the series with interest.

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