The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller


The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller

(Also known as Innocence Lost in Australia)


Volume 2 of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology.

Published by Orbit Books, October 2007

ISBN: 9781841496054


Review by Mark Yon / Hobbit


Book 1, The Innocent Mage, reviewed HERE.


My review of Book 1 admired the story-telling and the page turning nature of its narrative, though was slightly disappointed by the (admittedly comforting) safeness of its tale. The (erm) cliffhanging ending, however, left me interested in the tale’s outcome, so I was not too upset at taking on the slightly larger second volume.


However because of the book’s nature, following on from Volume 1, there are points that I’m going to have to develop.




The second volume starts just before the point we left it in Volume 1. As the story takes speed, the disastrous consequences of the deaths at the end of Innocent Mage leave us with some intriguing puzzles: how are Prince Gar and his friend Asher to deal with the kingdom of Lur turned upside down? How is Asher to meet his prophetic future, to be the Innocent Mage, born to save the world from blood and death, when the prophecy tells of apocalyptic proceedings as a result?


Well, as you might expect, there is a change in roles and responsibilities. Prince Gar now becomes King Gar, Weather-Worker for the nation. Asher is promoted from his assistant position to Ambassador for Olken Affairs. Dathne becomes Asher’s assistant to help deal with the increased workload as a consequence of Gar now being King Gar.


The city of Dorana deals with the royal deaths with stunned grief but is partly calmed by King Gar showing that his recently-found ability to manipulate the weather works. What they don’t know though is that, due to the earlier actions of Morg, Gar’s magic has failed and that it is actually Asher who wields the power: an action punishable under Barl’s law by death. As Morg becomes more powerful, the kingdom is split by upheaval and deception.




I said in my review of Volume 1 there were niggles that could make the well-read reader of Fantasy less enamoured of this book than those new to the genre or those looking for nothing more than a comfortable read. There was little here to change that view, though the pace was faster, the niggles slightly less – niggly – and some of the consequences of earlier actions quite interesting in their resolution. Karen is a skilful writer in engaging the reader with traditional plot developments and enough action, particularly in the last section of this book, to keep those pages turning.


Having said that, parts of the book definitely did not work for me. In particular for me, love scenes between two of the main characters were just cringing in their expression and execution. In addition, there are plot resolutions that may be too convenient for some. Despite these areas of concern, ultimately the story is resolved, the prophecy is achieved and the story is ended in a manner which is satisfactory, though not really unpredictable.      


In my review of Volume 1, I said that the book was ‘Not clever, not particularly original or uniquely stylish, but written well enough to keep the reader’s interest, this is a book that will create a warm sense of comfort for many Fantasy readers out there who wish to be charmed rather than challenged.’ As the books clearly run together, I would still stand by that for Volume 2, and with that view in mind I am ultimately pleased (though with some reservations) with the way the duology has developed and completed. There will be a lot of readers out there who will read these books in order to be no more than uplifted and entertained by them, and as such there is, in the end, much to get pleasure from. Those who enjoyed the first book will be further contented to find much more to enjoy here.



(And as a footnote, it has just been announced that Karen will be writing more of Lur soon: according to Karen’s website (link below) ‘there’ll be a standalone prequel telling the story of Morgan and Barl, and a double-barrelled sequel following on from the events of Innocence Lost/The Awakened Mage. The sequel is due to be published first.’)


Mark Yon / Hobbit, October 2007.

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