Posted by: Matt | December 17, 2007

Two Review Shorts

I’ve recently read a couple of fantasy novels that I have neglected until now to review, so I’m just going to throw out a quick review for each.

The Innocent Mage
by Karen Miller

Asher is a simple fisherman from the coast who decides to leave his home for the capital city of Dorana hoping to make enough money to give his widowed father a comfortable life. What he doesn’t know is that he is at the center of a prophecy that will either see his world destroyed or him the savior of it.

The Innocent Mage is the first in a two book series. It is a pretty traditional fantasy novel with nothing that most people who have read fantasy haven’t seen before. This first book focuses a lot on introducing the reader to the main players in the story and takes some time to build up. It also ends with the biggest cliffhanger I think I’ve ever read in a novel. So you might want to have the second book handy if you read this one, I don’t but I will get to it soon enough. It’s a decent debut novel for Karen Miller, good enough for me to have added the second to my list.

Rating: 3.5

The Subtle Knife
by Philip Pullman

This is the second book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I neglected to review the first novel on my blog, but so you know I gave it a 3.5. This book picks up a couple of days after The Golden Compass ends. And it ends just as much in the middle of the story as the first book did.

Overall I thought it a much more engrossing book. There was more action and had a little more going for it, but it was also maybe a little too busy which is certainly different than the more patient feel of the previous novel. Also, whereas I did not find The Golden Compass to be very anti-religious like many people have complained, I did feel like The Subtle Knife really turned it up, almost annoying at times. If this is offensive to you, you would do well to avoid the book. I also found in this book the most murderous mob of children I have ever read about. Some interesting themes for a children’s book.

I struggled with what rating to give this book, a 3.0 or a 3.5. I have not been nearly as impressed with His Dark Materials as many people seem to be. It just isn’t as good as I had expected, though I am committed to finishing the series. For me it is like Harry Potter, I don’t quite understand the appeal and can think of a lot better fantasy that people will never read.

Rating: 3.5 (hmm, or a 3.0 :))



  1. Cliffhangers are the entire reason why I tend not to buy many series—unless I can buy them wholesale after the series is all finished. I have such a horrid memory that I’d have to re-read all the books just to understand the next one when it comes out, and I always have so much to read that I can’t re-read that many books. And, I hate that feeling of frustration that comes with having an engrossing story cut off in the middle. I wish more authors would allow their books to stand somewhat alone. Just create an engrossing enough story that people will want to find out more about their favorite characters in later books—you don’t need a cliffhanger to guarantee sales.

  2. I enjoyed the His Dark Materials series (although I’m not a fan of Harry Potter), but I’m curious about that last part. What fantasy would you recommend over it?

  3. Heather – It is pretty bothersome to have cliffhangers in a story, I also expect each book to kind of wrap things up, unfortunately neither of these series do that, but fortunately they have both been completed so you can go right to the next book if you want.

    Eva – You would have to ask that! 🙂 Well, there is the Lord of the Rings of course. But of course I can’t think of anything else right now because I need to… Possibly a book I’m reading right now, but I’m only a 100 pages into it so that might be premature.

  4. The first time I’d heard of “The Subtle Knife” I remembered (without having read it) thinking it was one of the silliest titles ever. The whole day I tried coming up with parodies: The Blatant Spoon, The Nonchalant Fork, etc.

  5. John – I like The Blatant Spoon. 🙂 I never stopped to think about the title, but I can see how it would be funny.

  6. Lord of the Rings is definitely in a league all its own. 🙂 I’ll keep an eye out for you to mention that knew book. (and I laughed so hard at John’s comment!)

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