My Lady Mage
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Warriors of the Mist #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
A cursed destiny. A band of warriors. And one troubled kingdom.
It is whispered in Agathia that the legendary warriors of the mist-cursed by the gods-can be summoned only when a champion is needed and the cause is just. Gideon, their captain, knows this to be the one path that will lead his men to redemption-lest they face an eternity of damnation.
Years have passed since anyone has journeyed to the river’s edge, but times are desperate. Oppressed by a cruel guardian whose dark magic threatens to destroy her people, the beautiful and courageous Merewen calls upon the bespelled warriors. In Gideon she finds more than a champion, and in his arms, more than protection. However, their enemies are fighting with a power darker than anything than they imagined, and should Gideon fail, she will lose everything she holds dear-including her heart.
Lady Merewen’s family possesses a good magic that allows them to “communicate” with and care for the horses of the land. This gift provides the family and keep with a secure financial status. Their talent is passed to one member of each generation, and that family member is head of the household. However, when Merewen’s father passed away, her evil Uncle Fagan stepped in and was awarded custody over the keep. His greed and desire for power has corrupted many men in the keep, and Fagan’s neglect as all but broken the manor. After finding an ancient text that promises the help of the Warriors of the Mist, Merewen dares a trip to the River of the Damned to call upon the gods. And the gods answer her call by sending the fabled warriors to aid her.
The mythology of My Lady Mage isn’t one hundred percent original, however it’s different enough to make the story interesting. The world-building is subtle yet complete, drawing me in over the course of the book. The setting is similar to the historical lands of England, with god-sent immortal warriors in a river instead of a Lady in the Lake and King Arthur. Each of the five warriors have secrets and stories to share that will be divulged as the series progresses.
Right from the get go, there is an attraction between the Damned captain, Gideon and our heroine, Merewen. However for me, it read more like a father – daughter relationship in the early stages of the book. In fact, their first kiss was awkward and I didn’t feel the romance at all. I also felt that early on there was almost too much “immediate” bonding – Merewen isn’t phased at all by these mysterious men with their magical animal(ish) sidekicks. There was trust from the start and I felt it should have been earned.
However, as the book progressed, my early concerns were forgotten, and I was engaged in the story. The fates of Gideon’s men are tied to his actions. He is judged after each calling, and if he fails to meet the gods expectations, they are all doomed to an afterlife of wandering alone in the dark. Gideon constantly weighs his decisions, and I admire his careful thought process. One such exchange that I felt was superbly executed was when Lady Merewen open’s herself up emotionally and offers herself to Gideon. She is honest and so unsure, but willing to put it all out there knowing they may not have another chance. Her strength is amazing. Gideon wants her so badly, but must weigh his individual needs against the good of his men and what the gods will bless or condemn. The entire section was emotionally satisfying and even a bit romantic and smexy.
My Lady Mage is clearly the first “chapter” in a much larger tale. The warriors and Merewen may have won the battle, but the war is far from over. Fagan was only the pawn of the Duke, who is using dark magic. We have hints about what this man is capable of, but we have no idea what his ultimate goals are. The keep is safe for now, but the warriors only have a couple of months left in the land of the living to end the unidentified evil that is spreading.
In the end, I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading the next story, Her Knight’s Quest, coming March 2013. My Lady Mage is first and foremost a solidly-written fantasy, and the romance is secondary to the overall tale. The book lays the groundwork for the future of the series, which holds much promise. Although a fantasy story, it has a paranormal-historical feel that I think will appeal to a large audience.
Liked it – recommend (B+)