After I finished A Young Man Without Magic, I didn’t know how Lawrence Watt-Evans was going to salvage this series. The main character, Anrel Murau, was so inconsistent and indifferent that I loathed him. In Above His Proper Station, Lawrence Watt-Evans finally gives us a reason to care.
Anrel Murau’s one redeeming characteristic is his high moral standards. When it comes to standing his ground and choosing right from wrong, he is willing to sacrifice his own comfort and security. That’s noble of him, but the problem is that Anrel can’t seem to match the determination to do something with the right moment to act.
The Walasian Empire is in the midst of a complete revolt. Anrel, as an unintentional instigator, has fled to the capital city of Lume to seek aid after his attempt to save his Beloved’s sister has gone awry. In Lume, Anrel’s deliberate naiveté continues to lead him from problem to problem. He becomes involved with the thieves of the city after he is robbed. When disaster strikes and his haven amongst the criminals is destroyed, he flees to the home of a foreign emissary and sorcerer who takes him in.
Lord Blackfield, the foreign emissary, is a powerful sorcerer and a seemingly well-intentioned benefactor for Anrel. While staying with Blackfield, Anrel is brought back to the center stage of the political process that is attempting to reshape the Empire. Anrel’s naiveté once again is such a liability… you have to wonder when he’ll ever get a clue.
Anrel’s nearly complete lack of growth in embracing his ability as a sorcerer is too glaring not to mention. It doesn’t make any sense that Anrel would abandon such an obvious source of potential power to help others. I expected him to seek training or something… That’s the problem with Anrel. He’s an idiot, and it’s hard to like him.
Above His Proper Station is mostly an interesting read because Watt-Evans’ world building is so solid – his portrayal of pre-revolutionary France just feels right. The Fall of the Sorcerers has potential and Above His Proper Station is better than A Young Man Without Magic… I just wish I liked Anrel a little better.