Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Review: The Black Mage: Apprentice by Rachel E. Carter

The Black Mage:


(Book 2)



Rachel E. Carter





  She survived a trial year at the Academy, but that was just the easy part…

Now sixteen-year-old Ryiah is an apprentice of Combat, her school’s most notorious faction of magic. When she finishes she will be a mage, but in order to do so she has to survive four years with a training master she hates and her old nemesis, Priscilla. To make matters worse the unwanted attraction Ry feels for her sometimes-friend-sometimes-rival Prince Darren is at an all time high –even though he is betrothed to the very girl she can’t stand.

Really, the only bright spot to Ryiah’s new life is the time she spends with her friends, including an older apprentice named Ian, who she finds herself thinking about quite often.

Just when things start to get comfortable they take a turn for the worse. An apprentice is killed in a rebel attack and several mages end up dead. Unwittingly, the apprentices find themselves in the midst of a budding unrest between Jerar and its northern neighbor, Caltoth. For Ryiah the impending conflict means many things, but as her apprenticeship draws to a close she finds her biggest problem at home.

Unfortunately for her, Darren’s not going anywhere.



Since reading First Year, the opening book in the The Black Mage Series, I've been anxious to get back to Ryiah and her struggle to move up the ranks at the mage academy. Apprentice does not disappoint. All the little snags and hang ups that I complained about with the first one are gone, and replaced with characters you love to hate and ones you relentlessly root for.

I was pleasantly surprised from the very beginning. The story opens in a refreshing setting not often used in fantasy stories. Instead of spending the entire year at the Academy, the apprentices travel back and forth all over Jerar. There's not much filler to the story, like I found in First Year. Hardcore action, which includes exciting mock battles and dangerous ambushes, is only interrupted for key plot points and heart wrenching angst.

There's no way around it. Ryiah is an angsty girl. A tough, resilient, pain casting, blade wielding girl, but a girl who often lets her heart over rule her head, nonetheless. It's easy to love Ryiah like you would a close friend, but I found myself "arguing" with her a lot. - Just as Ella, her actual best friend does, so I feel like my opinions have some merit. ;) But Ryiah is her own woman and has to make her own mistake. Lucky for you, you have a front row seat through all the drama with Darren. I told her many times, "Girl, if you don't get your head on straight, you're going to be singing along to a lot of Adele in your future. Trust me." Needless to say, Ella and I are anxious to see how things turn out.

You can tell when an author pours their entire self into a story. As a reader, I have no choice but to really feel for the main character, even if I don't always agree with her. Rachel E. Carter has such a voice that she puts you right in the story and makes you feel as if you're decked out in training gear with weapons right next to the other characters. Among all the action and heartache of Apprentice, something dark was brewing up for book three, Candidate, (now available) and I'm definitely not going to miss it!  

 5 stars
* * * * *

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