For 15-year-old Ryiah the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead - the realm's most notorious war school for those with magic.
Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every "first-year" is given a trial year to prove their worth - and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail - and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.
When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship, she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve - and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat. Still, nothing is ever as it seems - and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in - herself. Will it be enough?
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I enjoyed this story very much. It slowly drew me in and I looked forward to resuming the narrative each time I halted the book. The Black Mage is a story about twins, Ryiah and Alex, attending a magic school. It is a Medieval type world where the twins are considered "low born" by the nobility. Ryiah, the main character, struggles to win a place at the academy. Priscilla is her major nemesis and she takes "mean girl" to the next level. There is the "spare non-heir" to the thrown and all the usual sycophants that help make the story exciting. I will definitely get the next book in the series.
Melissa Moran does an excellent job as narrator.
I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator
Sci-fi/Fantasy fan with a library-worth of reading behind him
My first impression of this book wasn't great. The narrator seemed to over-enunciate every word, the action was spurred by outlandishly implausible events (who jams their entire grasping hand into a thorny berry bush at night on purpose?). However, the complexity of this book lies in its peaks and troughs. It is well-written, but not outstandingly so. The narrators grew on me after an hour or so and I found her to be well-suited to the role by the end. The plot, however, moves from extremely exciting scenes and sequences that pulled me forward, to awkward and unappealing portions that made me contemplate not finishing.
My primary issue was that I found the main character to be somewhat uninteresting, and to not be worthy of the positive treatment and expectations she occasionally received. Honestly, she's desperate to become a battle mage but seems to have little to no natural aptitude for fighting when compared to other students. Fortunately, many of the secondary characters were quite fun. My other problem was that there is somewhere between little and no world building. We don't really learn ANYTHING about how magic works or interacts with the world. If you try to picture the world this takes place in, it's effectively just one or two vague buildings and a hazy palace off in the mists.
Clearly, the book is focused on the characters, and to a lesser extent on romance. The author does a good enough job with this that I'm considering picking up the second book. The characters are somewhat stereotypical, but these stereotypes exist because the characters that fit them are intriguing to follow. A love triangle is looming on the horizon in the second book. And I'm crossing my fingers, hoping we'll find out SOMETHING magic and the kingdom and what all these crazily trained mages are FOR in a realm without a war in 60 years. I may have been hoping for too much from YA fantasy/romance, but I've read a few truly excellent ones that set my expectations high. This one is eminently readable, and often enjoyable, but fails to reach greatness.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
I listen to 6.5-8 hours week days so if you would like me to read and review/rate send me a copy :)
I have been dieing waiting for book 2 this book was amazing.
I received this book free in return for a unbiased review.
I love a good Audiobook.
this story was enjoyable and I feel in this world with enthusiasm. I will be getting the next book. the narrator did an awesome job. her voice was pleasant and she spoke well.
This audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.
This book reminded me a lot of Harry Potter but a big more graphic with the gore. I enjoyed the book as a whole but at times did find it slow. Overall the book is very intriguing and I did like it a lot and was sad to see the 2nd book isn’t on audible yet. I will be keeping my eye out for it!
“This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobookboom”
I've always enjoyed urban fantasy over high fantasy. High fantasy tends to focus more on building the world (think Lord of the Rings). Some people really like all the detail and feeling like they're in a new land, but I've never been too fond of it. If that's what you're expecting from this story, it's probably not for you. This story doesn't focus much on building the world. We focus on the main character and our knowledge is limited by her knowledge. We see the training she goes through without really believing in the threat. It's more YA than anything. This is what I like, so I enjoyed the story.
I thought the narrator did fine. Her characters come to life and she brings emotions to the story. However, she's faced by the same problem a lot of teen novels have, and that is the narrator doesn't sound like a 15 year old girl. Harry Potter and Ender's Game are pretty notorious examples. Luckily the narrator sounds in her 30s which isn't a big issue.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com.
3.5 / 5
When Ryiah's twin brother, Alex, is discovered to have magic the two of them are sent off to magic school. It is known that if one twin has magic the the shall to, it's just that Ryiah hasn't actually displayed any ability yet.
This magic school is no high school like Hogwarts, or university like Brakebills, it is much more akin to a military training boot camp. The 'teachers' are not there to guide you or build you up, training you for a future life. They are there to break you, and whittle down the applicants until only the strong remain.
This books was frustrating in so many ways, and yet ultimately I enjoyed it and am interested in the next in the series.
The frustration comes from the fact the book is really myopic and very one-dimensional for anything outside of the narrow focus of Ryiah and her relationships. For a book about magic and kingdoms it has very little world building. The nation they live in doesn't get a name. They are training to be magical warriors, in preparation for war, but there is no discussion at all about war with who. Who are they training to fight? Other mages? Armies? Other nations? The magic is very vague in how it works, other than the users have a "well" inside them they draw on. Even having a royal family members as a major character doesn't provide any sort of context for the nation and the world. I would have loved to see just something beyond the events of the school and the relationships there.
As for that school, other than the handful of main characters, be they the 'good guys' or the occasional villain/antagonist noone is fleshed out. I was waiting for one of the 'teachers' to show some sort of depth, but all of them are just cardboard cut outs of the 'hard drill instructor' mold. They are there to be mean and make life hard and that's it.
Admittedly I picked this up thinking it was in the YA Fantasy section here, and have only since noticed it is actually listed under YA Romance and Friendship. So I guess it might be unfair to take issue with it lack of fantasy-style world building.
Ultimately the book is enjoyable and what it does, it does do fairly well. The (main) characters it sets up are interesting and varied. The are mostly fully formed characters, being various shades of grey. The conflicts have variety and keep you engaged. It only skirts the edges of the annoying teen romance tropes rather than diving head first in. It's because of these character driven parts that I was able to get over the frustration of the missing world building.
As can be clear from the title "First Year" the book only covers the first period of time at the school (which appears to be a 4 - 5 year school). However the titles of the sequels seem to suggest that it won't be a Potteresque year-to-a-book thing beyond this title, which I thnk will work to it's benefit.
Narration by Melissa Moran was enjoyable. She was clear and well paced. Characters are givens their own voice and personality, keeping them separate from one another. Moran carries the inflections and emotions of the story well, helping to keep you engaged. I think the narration, and the way Moran helped you feel the characters, is a large part of what helped me overcome my frustrations at the 'missing' story elements.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
I listened to audiobooks before they were cool! I read for LibriVox and I adore Stephen Briggs, T.G. Reynolds and Richard Armitage.
If you love Harry Potter and the movie Step Up, this book is going to be a blast for you! I noticed some echoes of Pride and Prejudice here as well.
Seriously though, this book's premise is very similar to Harry Potter at the start. A girl unsure of her magical abilities comes to an academy of magic, makes an enemy before she even sets foot in it, and she has a brother and a best friend - making them a trio of wizards.
Soon though a wonderfully original book starts to emerge. The magic system in this world is split into three factions. The school is much much harder than Hogwarts, sometimes downright terrifying. It requires true grit.
The book is so full of action, I forgot to do my chores! I usually do them while listening to audiobooks. Not this time... The dog loved me for it, though - I was so engrossed I just lay down on the couch and petted him :D When 'First Year' was over, I just wanted to know what happened next!
Do listen to this book. It was really a pleasure. It gripped my attention and stirred my emotions. Great narrator. Perfect for readers young and old.
My heartfelt thanks to the author, narrator, or publisher for providing me this audiobook via Audiobook Boom at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.
I am addicted to books. Nothing makes me happier than crawling inside a good book.
Amazing, unpredictable, addictive
I love that the low borns were given the same chances as the high borns and the friendship that bloomed between prince Darrin and Riha.
Riha and her never failing attitude to push herself beyond her limits and her dedication.
I can't wait for the next book in this series. I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.
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