REVIEW: The Mage On the Hill (The Web Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez
A young magic user who wants desperately to live. A jaded recluse who has forgotten what living means. They’re each other’s only chance.
Toby’s wild magic is killing him. The mage guilds have given up on him, and it’s only a matter of time before he dies in a spectacular, catastrophic bang. His only hope is an exiled wizard who lives in seclusion—and is rumored to have lost his mind.
The years alone on his hilltop estate have not been good for Darius Valstad. After the magical accident that disfigured him and nearly drowned Pittsburgh, he drifts through his days, a wraith trapped in memories and depression. Until a stricken young man collapses on his driveway, one who claims Darius is his last chance. For the first time in fifteen years, Darius must make a choice—leave this wild mage to his fate or take him in and try to teach him, which may kill them both. The old Darius, brash and commanding, wouldn’t have hesitated. Darius the exile isn’t sure he can find the energy to try.
Dear Angel Martinez,
I liked several of your earlier books but then drifted away from your works. I figured this one may be a good one to revisit your stories.
The blurb describes the set up well enough. I was still surprised though as to how cruel the Guild of mages had been to Toby. Oh they supposedly tried everything to help him channel his magic in the proper channels, but Toby’s magic still explodes a lot, so let us basically kill the guy?!
It all happens in the very beginning of the story so I do not think I am revealing any major spoilers here. Toby is also a persistent young man who (shocking as it may be) wants to live instead of being euthanasied and Darius’ name dropped in his presence while he was not even fully coherent gives him a crazy hope that maybe Darius would help him, would teach him how to deal with his magic.
“If he delayed, he might find himself sedated with his parents making decisions for him. They’d be devastated, but they wouldn’t fight what the authorities would tell them was necessary. Separation papers from seven guilds and rejections from all the others Toby had contacted, every single guildhall on the continent, had scuttled all hope that he could be saved. No one would take him now, and he was a powder keg waiting to commit magical suicide, possibly taking out a small town or two in the process. Be a stubborn, irresponsible, persistent bastard—or die.”
Darius used to help students like Toby and he was successful with some wild mages helping them finding the channels for their magic, but a horrible accident which ended the life of one of his students ended up in Darius being a traumatized recluse and giving his word to the League to not ever teach again.
““Please. My name is Toby Jones. I’m an unplaceable. Montchanin just refused to keep trying. They were the last guild who would take me.” Jones shook his head, the white streak through the middle of his black hair blinking in and out of the light like a strobe. “No.” “Mr. Valstad, I’m dying. My own magic is killing me. I’m desperate. Any terms, any—” “No! I can’t!” “You taught others. Unplaceables like me.” “Go. Away.””
Of course Darius’ resolve does not last too long because his compassion did not disappear even after what he had been through and he takes Toby in and they together begin a very interesting and fun journey of trying to find out what kind of mage Toby was.
I was immersed in the book and finished it in several hours (probably like three hours). It did not feel like a very long novel, but I hesitate to call it a long novella, maybe somewhere in between? In any event at the risk of sounding contradictory to what I just said, there were a couple of points which I stumbled upon. It was not enough to jerk me out of the story, but it was enough for me to stop briefly and say huh? I still wanted to know what happened next so I soldiered on.
The magic system that the author came up with was cool and I certainly want to know more as to how it works.
I am really not sure how I feel about the romance aspect. I was not squeaked out by it, however teacher and student roles fitted them both so perfectly and the age difference sounded like a lot (I don’t believe that their ages were stated if it was I missed it), but I am pretty sure that it was said that twelve or fifteen years passed after accident that ended Darius’ teaching career and he was already teaching for a while at that time. I don’t know, they were sweet together but I may have preferred to see them as friends. I will be happy to change my mind in future books.
I loved Darius’ friends , and while I have no idea whether the next book in the series will feature one of them as the main character/s , if that happens I will be very interested.
Grade: C+ ( my original grade was B-, but few months later I find myself remembering not much of the plot besides general set up and that is not a good sign)