Armed and Magical: Darker, snarkier, funnier

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Lisa Shearin Raine Benares 2. Armed and MagicalArmed and Magical by Lisa Shearin

Armed and Magical picks up almost right where Magic Lost, Trouble Found left off. It’s a week later and Raine is on the Isle of Mid with her cousin, Phaelan (“He was a pirate. Excuse me, a seafaring businessman.”), and the leader of the Conclave Guardians, Mychael (“an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, coated in yum”). Raine’s young friend Piaras is also there as a student. He is the most powerful young spellsinger to come along in decades.

I don’t know what to make of Piaras. He’s way too powerful to be a sidekick. He gives Raine some serious competition power-wise, even with her Saghred-induced “resume enhancement.” I like being befuddled like this. I keep wondering if before the series is over, Raine might find herself facing Piaras. It could be heart-wrenching.

The protective Raine finds herself hunting down some missing students. She makes a trip to the library and makes her library-use roll big-time. She finds a tiny, almost unimportant-looking volume that turns out to be a journal of sorts, and the author is mighty interesting. Naturally, getting out of the library with the book is a lot more interesting than going in. Raine really can’t go anywhere without running into excitement.Raine Benares (Book Series) by Lisa Shearin

In Armed and Magical, Raine is a bit darker and a bit snarkier. She’s still every bit as protective over those younger and/or weaker than she, so you still gotta love her. Still, the novel reads, very subtly, as if the Saghred is affecting her personality. In fact, it is so subtle that I applaud Lisa Shearin. There’s no overt struggle, no in-your-face “Give yourself to the dark side, Raine.”

The love triangle between Raine, Mychael and Raine’s ex-boyfriend Tam continues to develop. Considering the compressed timeframe of these two novels, it’s good that Shearin has not taken it too far. After all, in novel-time, only two weeks (or so) have passed.

The hilarious situations continue and are one-upped. Raine’s magic has grown so powerful that it often works much better than she expects, with sometimes-hilarious results. One scene had me rolling with laughter.

Armed and Magical does not disappoint. It continues to be as fun as the first novel with lots of “how the heck is Raine going to get out of this” moments. It’s a fast read with a lively conclusion that points the reader to the next volume, The Trouble with Demons.

FanLit thanks Tia Nevitt from Debuts & Reviews for contributing this guest review.

Published in 2008. My name is Raine Benares. Until last week I was a seeker—a finder of things lost and people missing. Now I’m psychic roommates with the Saghred, an ancient stone with cataclysmic powers. Just me, the stone, and all the souls it’s ingested over the centuries. Crowded doesn’t even begin to describe it. All I want is my life back—which means getting rid of the stone and the power it possesses. To sort things out, I head for the Isle of Mid, home to the most prestigious sorcery school, as well as the Conclave, the governing body for all magic users. It’s also home to power- grubbing mages who want me dead and goblins who see me as a thief. As if that’s not enough, Mid’s best student spellsingers are disappearing left and right, and I’m expected to find them. Lives are at stake, goblins are threatening to sue, mages are getting greedier, and the stone’s power is getting stronger by the hour. This could get ugly.

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TIA NEVITT, a guest contributor, has been a mechanic in the Air Force, a factory worker, a civilian supply weasel for the military, and finally, an office worker. She’s been an IT professional for 13 years, and now she's writing her own novels. Find out about them on our Tia Nevitt page or at Tia's blog.

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