Into the Labyrinth by John Bierce

Series: Mage Errant #1 Rating: 3/5
Date of Publishing: October 8th 2018 Genre: fantasy, young adult
Publisher: self-published Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 178 Author’s website: https://johnbierce.com/

Quote of the Book

Hugh silently walked forwards to the edge of the balcony. When he looked down-wards, he couldn’t even see the bottom of the library, except for a blue-white, unearthly glow coming from far below. The others silently stepped alongside him.

“How…how is this even possible?” Sabae said. “This is bigger than Skyhold. Bigger than the mountain Skyhold is built into. There can’t be this many books in the entire world.”

Blurb

Hugh of Emblin is, so far as he's concerned, the worst student that the Academy at Skyhold has ever seen. He can barely cast any spells at all, and those he does cast tend to fail explosively. If that wasn't bad enough, he's also managed to attract the ire of the most promising student of his year- who also happens to be the nephew of a king. Hugh has no friends, no talent, and definitely doesn't expect a mage to choose him as an apprentice at all during the upcoming Choosing. 

When a very unusual mage does choose him as apprentice, however, his life starts to take a sharp turn for the better. Now all he has to worry about is the final test for the first years- being sent into the terrifying labyrinth below Skyhold.

Personal notes

Picked this up when the author was hosting a giveaway on reddit.

Song of the Book

A song about growing up seemed appropriate.

Dammit by Blink 182  

Review

Hugh of Emblin is not having an easy time at school. He has no friends, no self-esteem and can’t seem to make any of his spells work. It doesn’t help that magic users that come from Emblin (his home) are incredibly rare so he has an ingrained mistrust of its use.

This book was a real mixed bag for me, as a whole I liked it – it’s quick, very readable and fun but there were also things that maybe didn’t work as well for me, as they may for others.

This begins like a typical magic school story, but reminded me a bit of a LitRPG, which is probably more to do with the fact that the only LitRPG I have read up to now, followed this same kind of formula of heading off to school, learning about using your magic, and then having what’s essentially a dungeon crawl for a final exam, than to do with the actual story itself.

I am not real big on the whole magic school trope but I am a fan of the friendships that are formed in that setting and once Hugh settled in with a mentor, and a group of potential friends, I enjoyed the story a whole lot more. So, the back half of the book made up for any of the slow school parts for me, with the equivalent of a dungeon crawl and getting to see the members of the group highlight their talents while going through the Labyrinth.

Hugh’s little group, all had their own issues that affected their abilities to perform their magic correctly and on one hand, I did like their journey from feeling like they can’t do anything right, to finding that though they may be different, it doesn’t make them unteachable losers and gaining that self-confidence and respect along the way. On the other hand, the picked on outcast role felt a touch heavy-handed at times, especially in Hugh’s instance.

I also liked that even though the plot was pretty predictable, it did take one small veer off with the bonding that I liked much better than where it looked like it was headed at first. Though later, that same plot point thread/twist (not sure what to call it) could have used some foreshadowing to keep it feeling less like an “oh yeah, this is why that happened”.

Like I said mixed bag, but despite a few flaws there are lots to love and huge potential to be a really cool series.

Other Notes

  • Younger readers will probably love the monsterology segments. I know my son would have probably felt the need to read them to me.
  • There was a lot of things that happened off screen that I kind of wished had been included.
  • Lots of wrong words used, spelling… etc
  • Totally loved the whole idea behind the Index.

This review was written by Jen (Bunnyreads)

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