The Wandering Mage: The turmoil of converging nations and magical systems

 

The Wandering Mage by Melissa McShane fantasy book reviewsThe Wandering Mage by Melissa McShane fantasy book reviewsThe Wandering Mage by Melissa McShane

The Wandering Mage (2017), the second volume of the CONVERGENCE trilogy by Melissa McShane, picks up right where the first volume, The Summoned Mage, left off (so there are, necessarily, some major spoilers here for that first book). Their world was split apart many centuries ago by a misuse of magic, but now the worlds have converged again. A complex spell, involving the work of many mages, has helped to minimize the physical damage caused by the convergence, but its aftermath left our main character, the Balaen mage Sesskia, many miles away from her now-husband Cederic, leader of the Castavir mages.

Their reunited land, which recombined the countries of Balaen and Castavir, is not only in some physical disarray but, far more importantly, political and social turmoil. Cities and towns from the two different countries have landed next to each other (not on top of each other, thank goodness), but the people now speak entirely different languages and have different cultures. Misunderstandings, conflicts and fights arise almost immediately. To make matters worse, the beautiful but criminally insane God-Empress of Castavir is leading an army in an attempt to gain control over the entire country.

Sesskia soon realizes that her initial plan ― to travel back to the capital city and find Cederic as soon as humanly possible ― has to be set aside for the time being. Her knowledge of both countries and their languages, and her magical powers, may be vital to helping bring the two countries together, and helping to combat the God-Empress’s takeover. Sesskia ends up being more important to both magical and political developments than she ever would have guessed.

The CONVERGENCE trilogy

The Wandering Mage is that relatively rare thing: a middle book in a trilogy that I enjoyed more, and thought was a better novel, than the first book. I particularly appreciated the additional development of the conflicting magical systems in this world, and how that played out in the battles between the major powers. Sesskia continues to learn more about the elusive nature of magic, and becomes a teacher of other mages, many of whom have newly discovered magical gifts as a result of the convergence. The mage training sessions were unexpected fascinating, especially in combination with some lessons in spying, and there’s political intrigue as well. Also: Mage wars! What’s not to like?

Like the previous book, The Wandering Mage is told in diary form. Sesskia is writing in her journal as events occur; it does require some suspension of disbelief to imagine she would be taking so much time to handwrite about everything that’s happening, in great detail, while her life and all around her is in such great turmoil. But it does give a sense of immediacy to Sesskia’s story. McShane acknowledges the debt she owes to Andrea K. Höst’s TOUCHSTONE trilogy for the inspiration to use the diary approach.

Also like The Summoned Mage, The Wandering Mage ends on a note of uncertainty. It’s perhaps not quite the cliffhanger that the first book had, but interested readers will want to promptly continue with the final third of the story, told in The Unconquered Mage.

Published May 23, 2017. The convergence is over, but Sesskia’s role in preventing it has left her far from her friends and husband Cederic. As she tries to travel north to rejoin them, events keep interfering. The mad God-Empress of Castavir is in control of an army that threatens to sweep over the newly rejoined countries of Balaen and Castavir. Men and women who use magic like Sesskia’s have sprung up after the convergence, and Balaen’s ineffectual king wants to use them for his personal protection. New friends, and new enemies, broaden Sesskia’s horizons and challenge her loyalties. Though Sesskia wants only to be reunited with Cederic, she is drawn into the political conflict between two countries lying intertwined with each other, and finds within herself leadership abilities she never could have guessed.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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2 comments

  1. I’m glad to have read your review, because these covers would not have attracted me to this series.

    • Lol, Marion, Jana was just commenting on my review to the third book that she likes these covers. I’m on the fence with them. I don’t think they would have pulled me in if I hadn’t read other books by this author and know that I like her brand of fantasy + romance.

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