Book Review: Magebane by Lee Arthur Chane

by T. E. J. Johnson

magebane cover

Review of Magebane by Lee Arthur Chane

Magebane is a rich fantasy tale, with a dash of Victorian steam-punk thrown in for good measure.

‘The Professor crouched beside Anton’s bed.

“And now I find myself in the same position to help someone else, someone much like I was. I have a need for a strong young assistant Anton. I have planned a great adventure for myself, but cannot do it on my own.”’

Hundreds of years ago, the MageLords, (wizards kings) locked themselves behind a giant towering wall 1,200 miles in diameter.  They did this because there was a great war, a Magebane, one resistant to magic, helped the world rise up against the MageLords’ yoke.

Inside this barrier, for the last 700 years or so, magical life went on relatively as normal.  The MageLords (wizard kings) and the Mageborn (wizards) run the show. Reading the book we soon see the power of the MageLords. Imagine being able to crush a man’s insides with a squeeze of your fist, or if you are a gifted, to have the power destroy a house with a flick of your hand.  Those born without magic are reduced to second class citizens, commoners working as servants, or living in cities a hand-flick away from destruction. Yes. Welcome to the Evenfels. Don’t worry though… the commoners have a plan.

So high and so impregnable was this great barrier, life on the other side of the barrier has moved on. The fact magic ever existed has been forgotten.  The rule of the MageLords has been forgotten.  In fact, the world outside is in a Victorian steam-punk boom; we have toys! The first electric lights, steam trains, repeater-guns, typewriters, wired-messaged and airships.

It is this airship in which Anton and the Professor fly over the great barrier.

Little do they know what exactly kind of world it is that have entered.  Two great forces in the Evenfels are about to collide, and they are about to land slap bang in the middle of them.

GREATS

  • –       Great characters
  • –       Awesome world system
  • –       Quick plot
  • –       Good humour!
  • –       Great value for $

This is a rich book, and Chane sets the plot zipping through a crackling political landscape.  The land of the Evenfels is wonderfully realised.  The magic system, is fresh and unique; magic comes from a finite source.  From ‘magic fissures’ in the ground (though the whole ‘finite’ theory is hotly debated by characters in the book). The way Chane describe the use and abuse of magic makes sense, you can feel the characters make a spell, or draw on energy and it is with this careful kind of craft with which he weaves the lands behind the barrier.

The books principle characters are strong and Mother Goodwind is a particular standout.  A dotty, forgetful Miss Marple kind of character, looking like a harmless old woman, with a somewhat inappropriate sense of humour.  This exterior and lewd banter masks her ruthless true nature and terrifying powers.  Mother Goodwind, with just a touch, can literally reach into your mind and tear apart your soul, turn you into her slave, or her puppet.  She is awesome, and complex; you will be in turns rooting for her and hating her.  Chane does away with any flat archetypal hero/villain characters, each one is complex, rational and occasionally irrational.

The prose is tight, Chane has a great vocabulary, and it is an easy read. It is long, I thought it great value; for $10 it lasted me three weeks and I thought I was a quick reader!  The last hundred pages of the novel absolutely fly as the story reaches its crescendo.

The novel is often very funny, and I definately LOL’d when reading.  Chane has a good risque sense of humour, often at the expense of the main characters which I really enjoyed.

In conclusion I would thoroughly recommend the book, it was fun to read, the world was fantastic and gave me that great ‘escaping’ feeling of an excellent, gripping fantasy yarn!

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