Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Book Review: THE MAGICIAN'S APPRENTICE by J.A. Jaken (Prequel to the Dragon Mage Chronicles)

Author: J.A. Jaken (jajakenfiction@gmail.com)

Length: 108,000 words
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure, M/M Romance

Jander Teregnan has never wanted anything more than to become a mage--to serve his king and defend his country as he explores his natural talent at commanding the strange power known as magic. Of course every apprentice needs a master, which comes with its own set of challenges...especially when the master he's chosen for himself is none other than Andrei Teresh, personal advisor to the king and master mage of the city of Vallerin. Andrei, however, has more pressing problems on his mind than dealing with the unsolicited advances of one untrained mage-apprentice. A fierce and merciless army of unknown intent is sweeping across the land, threatening the kingdom he has sworn to protect. Even worse, dragons--long thought to have withdrawn from the world of mankind--are emerging once again and spreading chaos in their wake. Somehow, Jander must find a way to help; not only to prove that he can be of use in the defense of his kingdom and become a mage, but also to secure his place at the side of the man he hopes to claim as master both of his magic and his heart.

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Carra's Review

I’m going to preface this by saying this is the first time I’ve read this author, and after finishing The Magician’s Apprentice I’m keeping a close eye out for the Dragon Mage Chronicles to follow.  I was completely pulled into this world the author created, and can’t wait to follow Jander and Andrei on the rest of their adventures.

The matchup of the young, magically inexperienced (but promising) and dedicated Jander with the older, skillful but gun-shy when it comes to taking on an apprentice mage that is Andrei…it’s opposites and age-gap and teacher-student all wrapped up in an interesting fantasy world.  It’s also a recipe for slow burn romance, mostly due to Andrei’s reluctance to start anything with Jander being his apprentice (and yes, there’s more than that but I don’t want to spoil anything).

I was slightly put off at first with Jander’s casual attitude about sex, as it made me wonder how he could have feelings for Andrei.  While I wasn’t totally okay about that (though this also may be due to my own personal views regarding sex and relationships), once Jander was on track to becoming an apprentice and his focus shifted so Andrei was more front and center, I became more comfortable.

There are times when the story does seem a bit sluggish, but this is mostly balanced out by the developing romance and the elements that lead up to the major conflict near the end.  Yes, there are dragons to be found here—I just wish there was more page time for them.  But the kitling (a likely dragon evolutionary relative) that Jander has for a companion helps make up for this, while also giving some insight into Jander’s burgeoning magical abilities.  It should be interesting to see how Jander’s talents develop from here.

As a prequel, this story does have a lot of setup going on, and there are still areas that need to be filled out more which I expect we’ll see once the Dragon Mage Chronicles start releasing.  The Magician’s Apprentice is a good start, and definitely has my interest piqued for more.  I’m wavering between 4 and 4.5 stars for my rating, but I will say that if you’re a fan of M/M fantasy/adventure romance stories, you’ll likely enjoy this book.  Be aware though that there are some scenes that may disturbing for some readers including attempted rape and assault.  That and the sexual content mean this book is meant for readers 18+.

About the Author

J.A. Jaken has been writing fictional stories and novels for more than ten years, most frequently in the fantasy and science fiction genres. She got her start in the profession writing slash fanfiction, where she has published numerous stories under the pen-name Rushlight. Over the years she has written short stories and novels in genres ranging from science fiction/fantasy to gothic horror to modern detective mysteries, most with at least a touch of m/m romance to them. She lives at home in the southwestern U.S. with her college-aged son, a cat, and the family Rottweiler. Outside of writing, her interests include studying foreign languages, practicing martial arts, riding horses, and collecting medieval weaponry.

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