Read A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller Online


Hundreds of years before the great Mage War, a land lies, unknowing, on the edge of catastrophe...Barl is young and impulsive, but she has a power within that calls to her. In her city, however, only those of noble blood and with the right connections learn the ways of the arcane. Barl is desperate to learn-but her eagerness to use her power leads her astray and she is banHundreds of years before the great Mage War, a land lies, unknowing, on the edge of catastrophe...Barl is young and impulsive, but she has a power within that calls to her. In her city, however, only those of noble blood and with the right connections learn the ways of the arcane. Barl is desperate to learn-but her eagerness to use her power leads her astray and she is banned from ever learning the mystic arts.Morgan holds the key to her education. A member of the Council of Mages, he lives to maintain the status quo, preserve the mage bloodlines, and pursue his scholarly experiments. But Barl's power intrigues him-in spite of her low status.Together, he realizes they can create extraordinary new incantations. Morgan's ambition and Barl's power make a potent combination. What she does not see is the darkness in him that won't be denied. A Blight of Mages is the new novel set in the world of Karen Miller's bestselling debut The Innocent Mage....

Title : A Blight of Mages
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316029223
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 640 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Blight of Mages Reviews

  • Elizabeth Giosia
    2019-04-05 21:40

    First and foremost, I must say this: While this book may technically be a prequel to the series Kingmaker / Kingbreaker, for the love of all that is holy, at least read The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage before reading A Blight of Mages. I’ve noticed an alarming number of reviews that give the book a low amount of stars, because they weren’t prepared for the violence and changes in one of the main characters, which easily would have been remedied if the original series had been read before the prequel. Additionally, there’s also a second series in the same world, called The Fisherman’s Children, with two books called The Prodigal Mage and The Reluctant Mage, both of which are fantastic and continue the story of Lur and its people magnificently. Personally, I suggest reading all of the other books before reading A Blight of Mages.So, let’s get down to it. A Blight of Mages, as I’ve said, is a prequel to the story set out in Kingmaker / Kingbreaker, which was continued in The Prodigal Mage and The Awakened Mage. (view spoiler)[It tells the story of how Morgan, a great Doranan mage, became Morg, and how Barl, his lover, lead their people over the mountains to the county of Lur to escape Morg’s evil magic.In the beginning, however, Barl was just a woman. A young woman with magnificent power and potential, chafing beneath the yoke of the rules imposed upon low-born mages by the councils of Dorana. The highest injustice lies in the fact that mages who are not of the First Families cannot attend the mage college in Elvado, the capital city of Dorana. Barl wants in, and she’s not about to take “no” for an answer. To prove it, after already being denied entry once, she writes to the Mages Council, asking to be allowed to study at the college. Denied twice, Barl goes about her days as a clock-mage, creating beautiful clocks for mages of higher rank who can afford such creations. Eventually, she can’t take it anymore; Barl goes to the college to speak with the mage who deals with the applicants to the college. While there, an altercation ensues that changes Barl’s life forever and, within the span of hours, she goes from being a fantastic mage of almost unending power to a woman who cannot even cast the most basic of spells without succumbing to crippling pain. In the beginning, Morgan was just a man. A mage with incredible power, a member of the First Families of Dorana, a member of the Council of Mages, and the heir to the Danfey fortune and the title of “Lord Danfey.” Needless to say, Morgan is privileged. Privileged, but broken. His first love dead, his father dying, Morgan can barely hold it all together. His father berates him constantly, belittling him because he has no wife and no son to pass on the Danfey name to. To please his ailing father, Morgan agrees to marry a younger woman of a family ranked higher than his … But then, he meets Barl. And it is love at first sight. Love isn’t what brings them together. Barl’s punishment does that. Love, however, is what keeps them together … Love, and mageworking. But when the mageworking begins to get too intense, too dangerous, can love fill the gap?(hide spoiler)]This book was like a train wreck for me. I knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t expect it to happen the way that it did, and I couldn’t look away. A Blight of Mages made me sigh like a giddy schoolgirl, and sob as though my heart were fit to break. A few reviews I’ve read mention the “explicit” sex scenes, but I’ll be darned if I could find one that was actually incredibly detailed. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit; it was good, and tugged at my heartstrings, and made me angry, and … I’m glad that I read it. It gave me insight into the characters who came after, and deepened my love for this fictional universe.

  • Erika
    2019-04-17 02:43

    It took me almost three months to finish the "Lur Saga" as I'm calling A Blight of Mages, The Innocent Mage, The Awaken Mage, The Prodigal Mage, and the Reluctant Mage. I read them backwards, starting with the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books and ending it with A Blight of Mages. I recommend for anyone interested in reading the Lur Saga, that you do it that way, because the ending of A Blight of Mages is much more satisfying that way than if you read them in chronological order.I honestly enjoyed A Blight of Mages, and after the Reluctant Mage I was a bit surprised. It was fun picking out names of future characters and putting the pieces of the puzzle together, A Blight of Mages pretty much explains why Asher was born the way he was. But you won't be able to pick it up if you didn't read Kingmaker, Kingbreaker. The first half was engaging, the middle was fast pace because you got so caught up in Barl's whirlwind mageworking/romance with Morgan and you kept wondering about that immortality spell, when will Morgan marry Barl, what is Morgan working on. Then the third part, the ending arch... it was heartbreaking, sad and painful to read, because if you read the other four books of the Lur Saga, then you KNOW what happens. You KNOW the consequences of Barl and Morgan's actions, the after effects of the Weather Magics and the Wall. All the things Jervale fears will come to past. Hence when you read that last line of the book, your heart breaks. Because you know the entire sacrifice that Barl and the Olken are making. And... it's so... heart breaking. Though over all, it was a great book and the reread value is very high. Though next time I read the Lur Saga I'll read it in chronological order. I recommend it to anyone. The Lur Saga is definately more enjoyable than The Godspeaker Trilogy. Hekat was just unlikeable about midway though Empress and Rhian... you liked in the second book but I couldn't stand her in the third.

  • Shira Karp
    2019-03-30 04:57

    This book started off lulling me into a false sense of comfort- I thought I'd picked up a pulp fantasy novel, an easy read where I know the cookie cutter plot and the joy is really in getting to know the new characters and how this world works. About halfway through this book I realized that they would accomplish everything I was expecting no further than 60% through at that rate and I began to get worried that they would just drag that part out through the rest of the book. Then I got slapped upside the head by a major plot twist... which just kept on coming. It was delightfully refreshing to not be sure what was going to happen next in a fantasy novel about mages.I found the ending quite abrupt with some major unaddressed plot points, which I knew would lower my rating if a sequel was never written, but when I started reading reviews on Amazon I discovered this book is actually a prequel to a series Karen Miller wrote called "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker", the first book being called "The Innocent Mage". I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book less or more if I'd read that series first, but at least now I know I can look forward to those unresolved plot points being the basis for that series when I get ahold of it!

  • Elaine
    2019-04-11 01:59

    I enjoy Karen Miller - but I do understand some of the complaints about her work. She does have a tendency to replay the same conversation between 2 characters again and again like Morgan and his Father and Barl & her brother - I think she was trying to show us the character development ie. how Morgan could do nothing right by his Father but it could have been handled much more succinctly. What I did enjoy was that there were no heroes in this book - all the characters were unlikeable in one way or another - Barl was so arrogant and blind to the worth of anyone else including her own brother who was at least as powerful as she and she never learnt her lesson. Her brother Remmie though an upright citizen was as dull as dishwater and as timid as a mouse. The other characters were all unlikeable snobs. One glaring fault in the world Ms Miller created which irritated me considerably, was that no-one other than Barl questioned the unfair class heirarchy that was in force, a heirarchy based on birth not magical power. The unranked mages were at least as powerful as the ranked mages even if they didn't get the same level of education - Barl would not have been the only rebel - in fact that sort of system would not have been sustainable!Putting that irritant aside I enjoyed reading how Morgan gradually fell into madness - how his evil actually came from a desire to do good or what he thought was good, but got corrupted by his own bigotry. Overall enjoyable - If Ms Miller could just sort out some of her character dialogue issues it would have been an excellent bookMerged review:I enjoy Karen Miller - but I do understand some of the complaints about her work. She does have a tendency to replay the same conversation between 2 characters again and again like Morgan and his Father and Barl & her brother - I think she was trying to show us the character development ie. how Morgan could do nothing right by his Father but it could have been handled much more succinctly. What I did enjoy was that there were no heroes in this book - all the characters were unlikeable in one way or another - Barl was so arrogant and blind to the worth of anyone else including her own brother who was at least as powerful as she and she never learnt her lesson. Her brother Remmie though an upright citizen was as dull as dishwater and as timid as a mouse. The other characters were all unlikeable snobs. One glaring fault in the world Ms Miller created which irritated me considerably, was that no-one other than Barl questioned the unfair class heirarchy that was in force, a heirarchy based on birth not magical power. The unranked mages were at least as powerful as the ranked mages even if they didn't get the same level of education - Barl would not have been the only rebel - in fact that sort of system would not have been sustainable!Putting that irritant aside I enjoyed reading how Morgan gradually fell into madness - how his evil actually came from a desire to do good or what he thought was good, but got corrupted by his own bigotry. Overall enjoyable - If Ms Miller could just sort out some of her character dialogue issues it would have been an excellent book flag

  • Jo
    2019-03-24 05:34

    This was another book I picked up as a possible 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge book, but which, due to my extra criteria, did not make it to my list of 10 books I read specifically for the challenge.I loved this book. I have read the original two Kingmaker/Kingbreaker books (The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage, the latter of which is published as Innocence Lost in Australia) and enjoyed them, but I think I enjoyed this one a little more. It took me a while to get into, as I found it moved a little slowly, but once Barl and Morgan meet, the sparks really do fly. While a reader who has read the Kingmaker/Kingbreaker books knows the final outcome, sie will not know exactly how the characters get there or precisely what happens along the way. This means Ms Miller is still able to create suspense within the story - and provide an explanation for certain aspects of the Kingmaker/Kingbreaker books.Also, I really enjoyed the fact that one of the main characters - and the most important one - is a woman. One thing that has frustrated me about Ms Miller's writing in the past is that every book of hers I have read so far has had a male protagonist. While her female secondary characters are present, important and interesting, this does not detract much from a book being all about a man, and in fact, led to my frustration, because she obviously could write such great female characters. This book proves that, if it needed proving, and it was simply refreshing to have everyone worrying and talking about a woman.One thing I enjoy about Ms Miller's writing, whether she is writing as Karen Miller or K.E. Mills, is that, even though her books are not set in Australia, her tone and her characters' slang (especially, in these books, that of the Olken) takes much from Australian tone and slang. It makes the books recognisable for an Australian in the way many other books in this genre are not.I'm now looking forward even more to reading the sequel series to the Kingmaker/Kingbreaker books, the Fisherman's Children books (The Prodigal Mage and The Reluctant Mage), and will definitely be seeking out other works as well.

  • Kate
    2019-04-21 02:36

    I'm not sure how to rate this book, because I liked the first half or so, and yet really didn't care for the second half (which I basically skimmed). I picked it up at the library because it sounded interesting, and I liked the first few pages. For the first half, I found the characters likeable, although quite flawed. I liked the setting, and found the world fascinating. The magic is interesting, and I enjoyed the idea of magicians as artisans, who not only create standard spells of warding and such, but use specific magics to create specific items, such as glass clocks that keep perfect time. I should also note that the sex scenes were fairly explicit (something I dislike reading).The second half I found horribly dark. I tend to shy away from books that involve things like entire countries being destroyed, and the crazy evil magician who was responsible working to free himself to create further destruction. I understand how it fit into the story, but it was much too dark for my taste. I did enjoy the complexity of the story, how (view spoiler)[Morgan believes that he is saving their country, and yet it is his magic that is tearing it apart. His use of forbidden magic drives him insane, and yet makes him impossible to kill. At the same time, Barl is lulled further and further into forbidden magic, from turning a beetle into turning a chicken, and does not realize the consequences until it is too late to save them. (hide spoiler)] But overall it was so dark and depressing that I don't think I'll be reading anything else by Karen Miller.

  • Britny Brooks
    2019-04-08 04:53

    This is the back story on Barl and Morgan that sets up the whole conflict for Asher in the Kingmaker Kingbreaker series(book:Kingmaker, Kingbreaker: The Omnibus Edition|13074864)and then again later in the Fisherman's Children The Prodigal MageThe Reluctant Mage This book was one of the best out of all five books combined. Why? Because of Morgan Delfrey, that's why. I don't think I have ever loved and hated a character so much that I think I made myself kind of sick about it (I also can assume that that might be how Barl felt about the whole thing). However, my recommendation is that you DO NOT start the series with this book. This is one of those times where the prequel needs to be read at the end so that you don't spoil your original concept of the story. However, it is your decision in the end--just make sure you read it last. You won't be sorry.

  • Robert
    2019-04-08 00:46

    Seems I should have read The Fisherman's Children first, but as far as I can make out, this is the same world but unconnected. I enjoyed the Godspeaker series, I laughed my way throught the Rogue Agent series, but this book is a bit special - almost two books' worth and very powerful. I don't think I'm giving too much away to say I felt a premonition of tears to come through most of the book, but I kept hoping for a happy end and we nearly made it.I've given it 5 stars, but I do have a few reservations. Quite a few of the characters are thoroughly unlikeable, but it's OK while I'm in their heads. When I see them through the eyes of other characters, it is more difficult to maintain my sympathy. There was a point near the end where I almost lost it with Barl. Talking of which: the names puzzle me. Most of them, like Barl, are very inventive and new, so why a Welsh name like Morgan? Authors are funny at times.

  • Jen Kayna (Habitat for Happiness)
    2019-04-10 00:55

    I am officially a huge fan of villain backstories!!! A Blight of Mages is the story of how the villain Morg and the ancient saviour Barl from the Innocent Mage series came to be. This story is set 500 years before The Innocent Mage and is a fascinating story of how Morg and Barl went from lovers to enemies. What I loved most about this story was how so many questions that I had left over from the original series were answered. It all wrapped up so nicely and made the world Karen Miller created seem so authentic. I definetly recommend reading this book AFTER reading the entire Innocent Mage Series (Kingmaker Kimgbreaker duology and Fisherman's Children duology) since it was so great being able to connect key moments from the other books to things happening in this one. I would have given this book five stars if it hadn't been for the slow start of the story. It's worth pushing through the first 100-200 pages to get to the good stuff though!

  • Connie53
    2019-03-28 00:48

    Dit boek heeft voor- en nadelen. Het verhaal is spannend en vreemd, maar de personages zijn soms onuitstaanbaar in hun arrogantie. Zo vind Barl zichzelf de grootste magiër ooit en dat is ze ook wel, maar ze zegt het wel erg vaak. Morgan heeft precies het zelfde probleem. En dat maakt dit boek voor mij een 7 en geen 8, maar halve punten geven kan hier niet.

  • Adela Bezemer-Cleverley
    2019-04-09 23:41

    I think this might have actually been the first time I've ever read a prequel to a series. It's kind of a unique experience (assuming you've read the series first) because you already know how it will end, and more beyond that; you know the future of the characters you're reading about as well as the future of their world. I expected this to cause me to be more detached from the story and not be as fully invested in the characters and their predicaments as I was with the rest of the mage books, but I soon discovered this was not the case.One begins reading A Blight of Mages from the frame of hating Morgan as the manifestation of evil and worshipping Barl as the saviour of the people you love. Then you are slapped in the face--and hopefully slightly amused, as I was--by Barl's abrasive and arrogant demeanour (something you expect and receive from Morgan, but you don't expect from Barl), her rashness and her somewhat selfish (at first) outlook on life. I felt so bad for Remmie throughout the whole book.And then there's Morgan, who I grew to like in the first quarter or so of the book. Although we did see things from his point of view in the later books, that was the view of a man driven insane by grief and fear and power as well as a skewed sense of morality. The Morgan we meet early on in A Blight of Mages is not that man. But because we know what he will become, we are more sensitive to his actions and decisions, and we can clearly see when the spark of corruption begins to take. We can also see where Barl begins to become wary of Morgan's plans (even before she gets lost in them and blocks the unpleasantness from her mind). I think because of the fact that we already know about Barl's inevitable betrayal of Morgan and Morgan's descent into wickedness it had less of an emotional impact on me (compared to everything in the other books), but there were still moments of shock and horror intertwined with the little nods as expected events were checked off the list. Rumm, for example... though I did suspect that his ending might come about in that way, that sense didn't change the horrificness (shh, I know that's not a real word) of the turning point which was his death. The abrupt loss of the councillors was a shock too, as well as the brief mention that all of Remmie's old pupils were lost before the Doranen reached Lur.I liked the insight we get into the beginning of the Circle and Jervale, which was something I was not really expecting to be a focus-point in this book. In terms of characters, I have to say my favourite character was Remmie. Yes, Barl was the one who saved the world, but she was also the one who helped to kickstart its destruction in the first place, and I was not happy with her most of the time--especially when she was being cold to Remmie.There are two things I am curious about after reading A Blight of Mages: - I'd like to know if anyone has actually read it before reading Kingmaker, Kingbreaker and Fisherman's Children, and what the experience was like in that case. - I'm really curious about the development of the social/political system that we see in "modern day" Lur (ie. in Kingmaker, Kingbreaker). Yes, due to the power and arrogance of the Doranen mages it is not surprising that they become the upper class over the Olken, but I want to know how the monarchy began! I think I just assumed, when reading the later books, that the system was modelled after the way things were in old Dorana. But there were no kings in Dorana! The country was ruled by two Councils. So how did the monarchy come into place in Lur? This would be something to ask Karen Miller if there was ever a chance...Anyway, if anyone actually reads this review you can maybe give your opinion on these matters? That would be cool.In the mean time, I'm keeping my eye out for more of Karen Miller's books! I don't think I'll ever tire of them.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-03-31 04:29

    Originally posted here.Despite its length, I got through the book in four days, even though I've been busy with other things as well. The writing, characters and world-building all caught my imagination and would not let me go. Before I was even done reading the book (a couple hundred pages in), I went onto Goodreads and marked her other books to read, because I loved reading this so much.Miller's writing is fantastic. I love the way she strings words together. Her diction and syntax both resonate with me. Obviously, she's fairly wordy--otherwise filling up so many pages is tricky--but I love verbosity. Miller is also funny; it's not the main point of the novel, but there were several lines that definitely made me laugh.Her characterization is like insanely good. Barl, the main character, if you can choose but one of the cast to focus on, is 22 and as fiery a heroine as anyone could desire. Possessed of mage skills that outstrip those ranked above her (because Dorana's rankings are based not on skill but on status, which sounds a lot like our world), Barl desperately wants to be judged for her talent. She dreams of attending the based college for mages in Dorana, but is repeatedly denied. Barl is passionate, hard-working, cleverer than pretty much everyone, arrogant, stubborn, and bemoans those with a 'child-ridden fate' (40). Of course, I loved her.I use her solely to illustrate the awesomeness of the characters. In lesser detail, here are some other wonderfully drawn characters. Morgan Danfey is prideful, a bit sexist, alluring and powerful. Remmie, Barl's twin brother, lacks her overt strength, but possesses serious loyalty and steadfastness. Venette is a nosy matchmaker, but she has people's best interests at heart; she is loving, and blinded by those emotions. Everyone feels real and believable, and, like with real people, you don't necessarily always know where you stand.Ordinarily, I am not often surprised by books. Most plot twists are like ummm, yeah, you foreshadowed that like crazy on page 10 and expect me to be surprised? Well, recently, there have been quite a few that have swept the rug from under my feet, and A Blight of Mages falls into that category along with the YA novel Never Enough. With Miller's book, it's not so much that I couldn't see these possibilities coming as her setup made me root so hard for the other outcome that I was still blindsided.Something to know: this book is seriously dark, which is part of what surprised me, because it's pretty light and then WHAM. Don't get too attached to anyone, because like a lot of good storytellers, Miller is not afraid to do terrible things to her characters, and there's a good chance some will not survive. There are some parts of this that are going to be haunting my thoughts for some time to come.A Blight of Mages is a prequel to Miller's Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series, which I really wish I had on hand like RIGHT NOW, because THAT ENDING. Anyway, if you like epic fantasy, you should really, really go get this or Innocent Mage posthaste (depending on whether you like to read series in publication or chronological order).

  • Paige
    2019-04-12 02:36

    I remember when I found out there was a prequel to the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books. The moment was full of that giddy "oooooooh" tingly feeling. Yes, I knew the ending before reading it, but that did nothing to detract from this book. If anything, it made me even more excited to dive in. Legends have always been a point of particular fascination for me, and all the bits and pieces about Barl and Morgan in the Kingmaker/breaker books engrossed me, left me wanting more.And I got more!I found it a bit implausible when Barl found out what had been happening in the wider world, and some of the conflicts between characters (Morgan/his dad, Barl/her brother) were hammered on repeatedly. But those are my only real complaints about the book.It is otherwise a fantastic (in both senses of the word), epic tale - good and evil in the form of people, and full of intensely spot-on characterization. Plus the magic! The clocks make me drool, a little bit, for the thought of wanting to see a real one made by Barl.

  • Jordan
    2019-04-23 23:35

    I loved this book up until about 90%. I think having read the rest of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series and knowing the end result made it very 'eehhhh' for me. I pretty much skimmed through the last 10% and caught bits and pieces. I loved the character development throughout the rest of it. Reading the other two books you know what Morgan Danfey is like. Then trying to reconcile that with the one you see it's really sad actually but it enthralls you into it even more as you watch his relationship with Barl grow and transform.

  • Christoffer Lernö
    2019-03-24 03:34

    Horrible.The story of two greatly flawed and arrogant persons growing more arrogant and flawed, and finally destroying everything. It might be an accurate prequel to the Innocent Mage, but there is nothing of the sympathetic characters of that book contained in this book. Maybe others enjoy their protagonists mean and self-destructive, but for me there was no joy in reading this story.I put off reading this book many times, and eventually had to force myself to finish it, just so I could put it behind me. Not a good sign.

  • Bob
    2019-04-20 05:59

    I was expecting simply an interesting read. The author was more interested in an epic. Endless conversations & political machinations. Might as well read Ludlum. Intriguing concept, and very well written, but so much was simply boring, and it took almost 200 pages to start to get anywhere. Also, it would be nice if the publisher would say somewhere that this is one of a series, with no real ending. All-in-all, a very frustrating book.

  • Craig
    2019-04-07 22:59

    Really just not very good. Page after page, chapter after chapter of several very unpleasant characters doing very little, and when they do, it's as unpleasant as you might expect. 400 pages in and it was clear it wasn't going to get any better. I liked the Innocent and the Awakened Mage books a great deal, but the author's readers would have been better served by a 10 page prologue than this 600 page unpleasant and uninteresting prequel.

  • Claire
    2019-03-31 03:45

    Amazing book! Over 600 pages and I read the whole thing in a day because I didnt want to put it down. You could really identify and sympathise with the characters. Well most of them, two I just wanted to slap lol Made me want to read the rest of her books which didnt appeal at first glance.

  • Kevin
    2019-04-06 02:50

    Another case of being thwarted by Goodreads's integer-only star system. I'd like to give this a 3.5 or 3.75.

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-04-07 05:29

    I’ve never really considered what the collective noun would be for a group of mages (coven might work, but it has more specific connotations than just a gathering). Blight is probably as good as any. The mages of Dorana certainly seem to fit the description. Never have I met such a pack of whiny and entitled people. I was happy to see their country destroyed.Yes, it is this fury that Karen Miller has inspired in me with A Blight of Mages. Barl Lindin is an unranked mage (she’s not good enough to sit with the cool kids and go to Hogwarts). She is stuck toiling in obscurity, building fantastic clocks under the watchful stink-eye of an artisan of mediocre skill and character. She itches only for a chance to prove herself and be admited to the College of Mages, where she feels that she can learn and be just as good as any mage of rank. Silly Barl doesn’t understand that the world is ranged against her because she lacks both money and family and hence lacks power. It doesn’t matter how much she whines or stamps her feet; she is doomed to a mundane life of work until she dies.Setting plot aside for a moment, I just have to remark on how much I enjoyed Miller’s depiction of a mage-dominated society plagued with the same problems of class and power relations that our non-mage–dominated societies here on Earth have. (At least, I think our societies aren’t dominated by mages. Huh. That might explain things.) At the pinnacle are the First Families, the ones lucky enough to be born into old money and power. Below them are the majority of Dorana’s population: unranked mages of various levels of skill. Miller weaves magic throughout all of Doranen society, as demonstrated in detail at the beginning when we get to watch Barl make clocks. At the very bottom of the social hierarchy are the unlucky numpties like Rumm who don’t have much magical affinity at all. These muggles get to spend their lives as servants to the mages. And Barl, though she’s nice enough to them, reveals her own position of privilege through her relative insensitivity towards their inequity.I don’t like Barl that much. Fortunately this appears to be intentional on Miller’s part, for she writes Barl as a very unlikable person: arrogant with a capital “A”, Barl wastes no time informing everyone in earshot that she is Awesome and Amazing and is totally better than Artisan Arndel, who is—I have it on good authority from her—a poopyface. She single-handedly delivers the bestest, most amazingest clock for Lady Grue (who does not live in caves, despite what her name might suggest). She single-handedly saves the artisanry from nigh-certain disaster at the hands of an incompetent fellow mage, though of course with no evidence of the impending disaster remaining, we just have to take her word for it. Barl has all the makings of a Mary Sue … except that, in the grand scheme, she is actually really bad at anything not directly related to mageworking.Seriously, Barl is a trainwreck through this entire book. From the first page to the last, she pisses off, to various degrees, every single person she meets. Fortunately, Remmie is related to her, so he forgives her (repeatedly). And Morgan … well, he’s Morgan. He saves Barl only to succumb to the siren song that is their mageworking combined. And so they proceed down the direst road of good intentions that I have seen in a long time.Morgan’s character development as a tragic hero is delicious. At the start of the book, he is little more than your generic rich heir. He courts a lady mage of rank with all the enthusiasm one would expect from a man being pushed into marriage by an ailing, misogynistic crust of father. (Morgan’s daddy issues are later cited by a few other characters as contributing factors to his skewed view of the world, and I’m inclined to agree.) As the story continues, and particularly once Morgan meets Barl and they start cooking with azafris, he grows more of a spine. But that’s not a good thing.Miller manages to pull of a twist of situational irony that is so clichéd and predictable it should fall flat—but it works. And it works, at least for me, because of the thick and reassuring waves of schadenfreude that wash over me as I watch Dorana crumble. The reactions of the other mages to the nascent catastrophe are reminiscient of global warming deniers. (As much as I like Morgan’s character development, plenty of the secondary characters, particularly antagonists like Sallis and Morgan’s father, are stubbornly one-dimensional in their moustache-twisting commitment to being Bad People.)So Dorana falls apart, and it’s actually all Morgan and Barl’s fault, even though they were trying to prevent this very thing from happening. Surprise! Except it’s not a surprise to the reader, because we’ve seen this before. Miller knows this, so rather than standing awkwardly around and trying to extract further plaudits, she swiftly moves the book on to the most satisfying part: an extended epilogue that sets the stage for the main part of this series, which had already been published.After Morgan descends into madness, Barl and the surviving Doranen mages become refugees. They flee to Lur, which by all accounts is a pretty desolate place. Mountains won’t stand in Morgan’s way, though, so Barl has to work one last feat of magic to cut Lur off from the rest of the world and isolate the Doranens and Olken for as long as possible.On a thematic level, it’s very interesting how Miller has Barl repeat her earlier mistakes rather than learn from them. Once again, Barl shoulders all the responsibility—that arrogance making it impossible for her to admit that someone else could do it—for “saving” people. She has a cross to bear, and she’s none too reluctant to make sure everyon knows she is bearing it for them. I suppose I’ll have to wait until I read the next book to find out what comes of the walled-up refugees. For now, though, I just enjoyed watching the disasters come one after the other, escalating until, finally, all of society crumbles.Well, Barl gets her wish after all. All of Dorana’s mages are equally screwed. (Or dead.)A Blight of Mages makes me think back to the good ol’ days of my youth when I was curled up with the larger instalments of Modesitt’s Recluce saga. This book has the same feel of scope and intricate attention to the harmony between magic and the world around us. I suspect that, had I read it back then, I would have found it just as influential as I did Modesitt. As it is, like with Modesitt’s work now, I can see the cracks in the brickwork. It’s not a perfect book—it’s a little long, a little repetitive at times in its insistence on characters endlessly dancing around issues instead of doing things about them. But, as my flippant commentary above hopefully communicates, the book remains extremely entertaining. Despite its length, there was never a point where I found myself putting it down and wanting to walk away: I just wanted to see what fool thing Barl or Morgan might do next.So far, this world is far cooler than the Godspeaker trilogy, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books.

  • Nicole Fuschetti
    2019-04-03 00:35

    I really wanted to like this book. Barl and Morgan were interesting at first, but also two of the most annoying characters of all time. They both were full of themselves, and that led to everything else that happened. I do understand this is a prequel to Karen Miller's other books, which I haven't read yet but plan to. I have read her novel, Empress and I loved that, but this just left me disappointed. The first half of the book was better than the second. I felt the book became dry and slow at points. For some reason this book seemed to 'tell' me a great deal, rather than 'show' it. Overall, it was very disappointing. It was nearly 800 pages and didn't need to be. Also, while I understand why she did it, introducing new characters in the last 100 pages was awful. I didn't like any of the characters in this novel. They were tolerable at best. Though I do understand this is to set up the rest of her series, but I do agree with some other reviews that this book could have been greatly condensed.

  • Barbara
    2019-04-16 04:40

    Wow, this book hit me hard :( Many tears were shed.

  • Clay Haase
    2019-04-01 04:47

    Review brought by Geekly Review‘A Blight of Mages’, by Karen Miller, is the prequel to the series of the same author Kingmaker / Kingbreaker, and takes place in the world of The Innocent Mage, and The Awakened Mage.The plot of ‘A Blight of Mages’ is simple to follow, taking place hundreds of years before eth great Mage war, and centers mostly on Barl and Morgan throughout its length. Barl, young and impulsive, wants to access magical education, but lacks the ‘purity’ of blood to access it. Morgan – a member of the Council of Mages – is intrigued by her power, and after some turns of fate ends up working with her. Combining his ambition and her power to create extraordinary new incantations that will, unknown to Barl, let loose a darkness hard to control. As such, the book tells the story of how Morgan, a great Doranan mage, became Morg, and how Barl, his lover, was to lead their people over the mountains to the county of Lur to escape Morg’s evil magic.Now, I picked up this book without really paying attention to the plot, having read the Kingmaker books a while back, and purely looking for something different to read within the fantasy genre that was more magic-heavy. I enjoy giving books a try every now and again without paying too much attention to summaries and reviews and ignoring my first reaction to it. Sometimes it pays off, and I can find something utterly underrated.Was this one of those times? Definitely not. If I had to choose a word to describe the entirety of ‘A Blight of Mages’ it’d definitely be ‘dissapointing’.The plot is easy to follow: in a land where almost everyone can use magic there is a caste system set up that restricts the access to it. An unranked person doesn’t like this and fights against it. Somewhere along the pages of the book a romance sprouts, previously unseen magic is created, and a villain appears out of somewhere.Simple? Definitely.Though my issue isn’t with the plot in of itself. Though this line of plot is hardly new or adventurous there are many works out there following it which truly work and are amazing reads. Instead my issue with the plot was that after the initial pull of the book it really had nothing to offer, make it stand out, or be remotely entertaining. The plot and characters seemed one-dimensional and entirely clichéd, with unsophisticated and simplistic arguments against the caste system and the privileges of the wealthy. The dialogue, disappointing at best and lacking the interest than the dialogue in books such as ‘The Blade Itself’ enjoys. It seemed incapable of being interesting and distinguish between different speakers, and didn’t manage to advance the plot or story in any way. This goes without mentioning the attempt at ‘high speech’ in this book, an entirely different thing which was equally disappointing. The magic, did however succeed in being of some interest. Sadly hardly enough to be able to balance out the other elements of the book.Then, there is the issue of pacing and development of the plot itself in the book. The first 1/3 of it seems devoted to the relationship between Morgan and Barl. Which, though I enjoyed as a romantic plot in itself hardly saw any kind of development of any kind as to the main plot. Then, suddenly and towards the second half of the book, the relationship falls apart and in five pages of italics a year-long exodus of 100,000 people and many of their deaths is added. Then, as abruptly as this appeared, a brand new character and POV is introduced alongside another argument. All of this without any kind of suitable development in the first parts of the books and zero sophistication.‘Disappointing’ really stays short when referring to how the plot of this book felt like when reading it. Cliché romance stories have a place in the genre, that is true, and for a specific type of audience. But when they are included within something purporting to have a complex fantasy world that fails utterly and completely in this task, it is another story.‘A Blight of Mages’ has zero political intrigue and no complexity to its society at all. It feels utterly ordinary, and a waste of good reading time in comparison to how other books of the same genre and similar plots are. A shame, since at the very beginning it honestly felt like it could be a great book to read, but it all falls apart as quickly as the main city where the story takes place. The dialogue is boring and uncreative, and skipping at times didn’t equal any lost information. As such, I can’t say I recommend neither reading nor buying this book (unless one wants to read a book such as this intentionally). There are much better books out in the market to read and purchase, and much better stories and worlds to get to know.

  • Tsana Dolichva
    2019-03-25 00:31

    A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller is a prequel to her Kingmaker, Kingbraker duology. I read the duology The Innocent Mage and Innocence Lost, many years ago, when they first came out (circa 2005, and golly was that cliffhanger between the two of them painful to wait through). A Blight of Mages tells the story of how the world in Kingmaker, Kingbreaker came to be how it was and why, in the future duology, the world needed saving. I had only faint memories of Kingmaker Kingbreaker when I started reading (centring mostly on the presence of aforementioned cliffhanger) and it took me a little while to work out exactly how the characters related to the future world, but that had little effect on my enjoyment. This definitely isn't the kind of prequel that needs the original series to be enjoyed.The story follows two powerful mages, Barl and Morgan. Barl is unranked (meaning not a member of the noble class) and as a result is not allowed to enter the illustrious College. She is frustrated working for her artisan boss who doesn't appreciate her powers and who is jealous of her better mageworking. Instead of encouraging her, he seeks to thwart her at every turn. The fact that Barl knows she's a better mage than most and isn't afraid to say so, doesn't really help her case.Morgan is a ranked mage and the youngest to be admitted to the Council of Mages, which rules over all matters of magical law. He too finds it frustrating that other mages won't recognise his superior talents, particularly two of the other mages on the Council. Having access to more resources he strives to create better and more powerful incants in his spare time. In the course of events Morgan and Barl's paths cross and they find in each other kindred spirits.A Blight of Mages was an enjoyable read. Barl's part of the story deals a lot with the injustice of class systems — ultimately ironic if you've read the future duology — and somewhat dramatic consequences of perpetuating the system. On the other hand, it was nice to see that there was gender equality in Miller's world, with women able to take on the same roles as men depending only on their magical abilities (I have absolutely zero recollection whether this was also true in the duology). Indeed Barl herself is one of the most powerful mages to ever come along and the fact that she is female is never an issue. Which is nice, given how many fantasy worlds are oppressive to women.The only time I lost interest in the story was close to the end where there is a gap of several months summarised in a few pages and then the story jumps to a whole new character's point of view. It seemed to me like that time, and the new character, could have had an entire novel all of their own. On the other hand, that would have necessitated an extra storyline or two in addition to the main story already present in A Blight of Mages and I can understand the author not wanting to make the prequel into a duology of its own. And the new character was important to setting up some aspects of the duology. Happily, the story picked up back to the usual pace after that and ended with an appropriate bang.All in all, A Blight of Mages is a solid fantasy read that stands alone well (although if read first, I can see it acting as a gateway drug to the duology). I recommend it to fantasy fans and fans of Karen Miller's other books, particularly those set in the same universe. (On the other hand, if Empress of Mijak is the only book of hers you've read/enjoyed, A Blight of Mages is entirely dissimilar.)4 / 5 starsYou can read more of my reviews on my blog.

  • Frederick
    2019-04-13 02:50

    Bight of Mages is the prequel book to Miller's King Maker, King Breaker series. It is primarily designed to explore the reasons behind the flight of the Doranen to the land of Lur and how the two main characters, Barl Linden and Morgan Danfey, become central to this act and the fall out from this that spreads into the other novels. If this means little to you, here is some back story:The King Maker, King Breaker series, and its follow up The Fisherman's Children, is set in the land of Lur, which contains the peaceful Olken folk, who have a sort of natural magic, and the proud Doranen, a people of powerful mages and complex magics. Years before, the Doranen fled their own land due to calamity brought about by the evil mage Morg. The main series follows the Innocent Mage, Asher, and his fight against the return of Morg. This prequel, however, sets out to explain how this all came to be in the first place.The story, for those who have already read the rest of the series, is interesting enough and setting out to paint the picture of l Morg (Morgan Danfey) and the powerful but reckless Barl Linden as much more complex than what is hinted at in the other novels. The book has both a lighter side and a gradual drift into murkier waters, but not so far as what one would expect of Abercrombie and others. While the darkness and moral ambiguity is there, it is not so stark. Nor is it painted particularly well either. Miller has already shown that she can produce and develop complex characters, but in Blight of Mages, it is not so finely done. The story suffers from some pacing issues, with around half the book given to exposition of the characters backgrounds and the class system of the haughty Doranen and could have been stripped of a good 100 pages to liven it up. Alternatively those 100 pages could have been given over to the much more interesting and fast paced second half of the novel - which arguably moves much too quickly.Miller does well to tie to book together and, though it has been a while since I read The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage, I do not think that any plot inconsistencies were present between the series. However, this tying together of loose ends is really only covered in the last four chapters, making it feel like Miller ran out of room and had to cram all these links in at the end. In addition, a major element in the book is mentioned during Morgan and Barl's time together, but never reappears afterwards, making it seem like the author simply forgot about it - (view spoiler)[the incant for everlasting life. I presume Morgan used it as he is almost killed at the climax, and reappears in the other books, but this is never mentioned, simply alluded to. (hide spoiler)]Despite these criticisms, the book is a good read. I admit that, having read the other novels previously, the first half was a bit of a slog, but the remainder shows off Miller ability to hold the reader with gripping storytelling. Fans of the series will definitely find something of interest here, but they should also be prepared to be a bit disappointed, as this certainly doesn't match up to the rest of the King Maker, King Breaker books. For first time readers of Miller's work, I would certainly recommend reading The Innocent Mage and the rest of the series first, before coming back to this prequel.

  • Stephanie Morrow
    2019-03-29 05:42

    You can read this review and others like it at The Nomadic ReaderWow. It had been so long since I had a good fantasy book pull me in the way A Blight of Mages did. I wasn’t even expecting it, which was the best part. I had the book in my to-read pile for quite some time, having read other books by Karen Miller (the Innocent Mage, the Awakened Mage, etc) and had just sort of forgotten about it. I’m incredibly glad that I finally got around to reading this one. Things started out a little slow for my liking. You’re introduced to Barl, who is an opinionated woman working at a job she doesn’t want to be in. She wants more out of life, as do we all. You learn about the relationship with her brother and the problems she has gotten into in the past. She is a low-born mage, and she isn’t allowed to progress the way she’d like, the way she knows she deserves. She wants to attend the mage college in Elvado, the capital city of Dorana, but she is denied. She is frustrated by this, and acts out a bit like a spoiled brat.Things drag on for a bit until through a series of events, Barl meets Morgan. Morgan is broken, and Barl is his redemption. His first love is dead, his father is dying and begging for an heir. From here things get incredibly intense, and they move fast. Barl and Morgan fall in love. They start working together, creating together. It’s fast paced, and it’s passionate. The outside world becomes a blur as they wrap themselves up within each other and their project.As a reader it was easy for me to become wrapped up in their affections as well. It was easy to miss the signs that not all was right. Suddenly faced with the realization that things are very wrong, it was like a splash of cold water to the face. I couldn’t believe it, I had been that wrapped up in the story. The book can get quite violent, but I felt that within the story it worked and it wasn’t out of place.The book does a fantastic job at pulling at your emotions. Starting with indifference towards the characters, becoming wrapped up in their romance and happiness and then sudden horror and shock and sadness when the pieces finally slide together by the end.Highly recommended.5 / 5 stars

  • Antoine
    2019-03-30 23:58

    I had read the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series a few years ago so when I came across this book the name Barl tickled the back of my mind. When I realized it was a prequel about the deity in the series I had to buy it! I had the benefit of having the bare bones of Innocent and Awakened Mage in my mind, but having had years and probably hundreds of books between when I read them and now I also had a fairly fresh mind for this half-remembered world.This book did not disappoint either as a standalone novel if you've not read the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series, or as a prequel to those who want to know about the Mysterious Barl.I did not like Barl Linden. She is arrogant, and stubborn, and immature. Her great intelligence just makes her prideful blindness less bearable. While she is obviously correct, in my opinion, in her seeking of justice, her behavior makes her unable to attain it AND makes it so that neither she or anyone else can say whether she's being held back by social injustice or her own abrasive nature... She is a very compelling character. As I said I didn't like her. I disliked her almost as if she was a real person in my life. As the story progresses she does grow as a character and we do see a softer side of her, but her growth is realistic, and if you thought to see the pride and ambition die, you would be sadly and properly disappointed.The story itself is compelling (especially if like me the kingdom of Lur is a fuzzy half-remembered dream) the magic of the Doranen is fleshed out to a fantastic degree. Part of that might be that it was more potent and pure in the Days of Barl (for reasons I won't speculate upon to avoid spoilers) though it may just be that most of this story is purely Doranen where as Kingmaker, Kingbreaker is mostly Olken (and crippled-Doranen)The writing is masterful. There are points in the story in which large chunks of time are squeezed into short spaces and they come off almost scripture-like. I'm not sure if that's what the author was going for, but I assume it was, and it was done well.I strongly recommend this book before Kingmaker, Kingbreaker if you can. If you've recently read them I think you'll enjoy it on another level.

  • Filip Ängelsson
    2019-04-15 21:52

    I actually read the book some months ago after I had read all the other books in the series.To be honest I thought that this was going to be your typical prequel where you see what you'd expect to see, e.g. characters you knew etc. I could not be more wrong. Because the first 4 books in the series started off after 500 years in the story, there were the neccessary gaps in history that aided the flow and mystery of the book. But until the series was actually over, we still didn't really know what happened. Here we get to see how everything started but it was not until the very end that we got to figure out how the story was laid for the next (or previous) 4 books. I was amazed to read all those wonderful overthrows and to be surprized every time that happened. The best moment while reading this book was the last page. It held so many emotions that I was almost ready to cry for everything that had happened. How a kind but proud mage like Barl could have destroyed so many lives because all she wanted was to have her talents recognized. How her beloved brother was on her side until the end, and how he sacrificed himself to buy them some more precious time. How Morgan Danfey whom I got to love whilst reading the book because of what he'd been through, had actually turned to this sad person and how it wasn't his fault of becoming the Morg monster. How at the very end Barl acutally gives up her pride and tries to protect everyone with her own sacrifice and how that action turned her into a beloved Saint. That was this book's major strength, to build up the tension until the end of the story. But since it's me and I don't think I will ever be 100% pleased with anything, there were some "red marks" about this book, minor on the overal but they cannot be left out. In my opinion there were some parts with uneccessary analizing and information somewhere in the middle of the book, that actually felt like stealing precious pages of the latter story where it was almot summarized. Were this to be kept to a minimum, I'd have no reservations to give it a 5 stars.It's a must read for the fans of the genre and for the fans of the series. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that just wants to read something different from the trend/ main stream.

  • Rebekah
    2019-04-17 04:33

    I picked this book up in water-stones randomly because I liked the title, and it seems to be the exception to rule 'don't judge a book by it's cover', because ultimately I found it to be excellent.The world that Miller creates is almost seamless, from the first page I could envision Barl's world. The characterization however, is the real bread and butter of the book. I think I enjoyed it so much because Miller created such a empathetic character in Barl, maybe it was just me, but I could really relate to her. That is not to say she isn't flawed, quite horrendously so in fact, but despite the stupidity and arrogance of some of her decisions, I never quite stopped relating to her postion. I believe Miller set up something of a fable in the doomed romance of Barl and Morgan, not only in their love for each other, but to greater extent their mutual thirst for power. Their relationship is passionate and charged, as they seem to be two sides of the same coin, both powerful, both constrained and both far too arrogant for their own good. They are perfectly matched for each other, however not all matches produce a positive result, and their relationship is like combining fire and gasoline, leading to great destruction. Although at times the interaction between characters is a little contrived, I found that it always managed to tread the line between being entertaining fiction and being simply melodramatic, as the level of emotional drama correlates well with the level of catastrophe, which gives license for characters to act more than a little irate. As much as I related to, and sympathized with Barl, I have to conclude that the book works so well in part, because she receives a fitting reward for her actions. Which ultimately is her death, but at the same time allows for some measure of redemption. The moral of the story- 'Pride goes before a fall' and 'making demons probably isn't a good idea, even if you're the greatest mage in the universe'

  • Angela Delgado
    2019-04-16 01:32

    (Cross-posted to Amazon)I don't know if I would have liked this book at all without having read the KingMaker, KingBreaker duo and its sequel duo. There are no heroes, no perfect endings, and it honestly tends to drag.However - knowing the eventual end that everyone is hurtling toward - it was a wonderful back-story to Asher's experiences.Barl is extremely well characterized as an arrogant, hot-tempered, impatient mage who has the skill to back herself up. Unfortunately, the strictures of her society are such that even with her skill, she can't be accepted into the greatest school of magical learning (not being nobility) and she isn't willing to settle for second-best. Barl's impulsiveness and anger get her into more and more trouble, until she finally breaks free of the punishing constraints placed on her magic and impresses her captor enough that he lets her research illegal magics in collaboration. She's so caught up in the pure love of the research and creation of new incants that she refuses to listen to the warnings of anyone, even herself. Barl ends up the classic example of a tragic hero whose signature flaw leads to catastrophe, and becomes more sympathetic as she realizes just what her actions have led to.Morgan, on the other hand, was a cipher in the KingMaker, KingBreaker books and is hardly less so in A Blight of Mages. He was never quite believable - by which, I mean that I was never able to be sure whether his self-professed reasons for pursuing transformational magic were really true; whether he was really following what he thought were the best interests of his country, or whether it was a cover. As the book progresses, Morgan's point of view is left more and more out of it, and all we can do is to decide if we trust what he tells Barl are his motives.It's everything I've learned to expect from a Karen Miller book - dark, and growing darker; populated by strong personalities, and no guarantees.