Mage Prince is the third book of Kayleigh Nicol‘s The Mage-Born Chronicles series. Thank you to Kayleigh Nicol for providing an ARC in exchange for review!
|Series: Mage Born Chronicles #3||Genre: fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: September 30th 2020||Publisher: Self-Published|
Following the fall of the mistress mage and the untimely death of the old king, King Vanikolanestra and Mage Prince Jereshin work tirelessly to end the slavery of the mages of Zarapheth and restore magic to the realm. Old noble families are restored, the mage guild is revived and reparations are made against the old king’s crimes. All seems peaceful as Reshi seeks to set aside his crown in favor of Niko’s child and the upcoming heir ceremony.
But as ambassadors from foreign nations flock to the capital to witness the ceremony, latent foes begin to emerge. A band of rebel mages vow to wage war unless a monarch of magical blood sits on the Zaraphethan throne. A foreign delegation from a mysterious kingdom arrive with a hidden agenda of murder and magic. And ancient beings stir beneath the very stones, gaining strength from Laurana’s final bargain. Enemies within and without seek to set Niko and Reshi against each other as the rhythm of war threatens the kingdom once more.
“But the horses really need to rest,” I argued, eyes falling shut from the warm comfort of the bath. “We’ll travel faster on the road if we can give them just one full day of rest. And we’re safer here than anywhere else in the kingdom, until we get to the castle.”
“The longer we stay here, the more time we give the Unmarked to catch up to us.” I heard the rustle of clothing hitting the floor as Kestral spoke. “And if we’re the reason Couressa’s parents’ keep gets attacked, you know she’ll never let us hear the end of it.”
“You think so?” I mused. “I think she’d thank us if it kept them from wintering in the capital. You know how she complains when they hover.”
I had the most ridiculous time trying to find a song for this book – nothing was quite right. I finally remembered this one from Jack’s Mannequin called Swim. The bonus for me was I’d forgotten how much I love this band.
Mage Prince returns us to the Kingdom of Zarapheth with all the fun, magic, and friendships, you expect from this series. Reshi, Niko and co. are working hard to rebuild a nation and make amends for the crimes of their parent but, the dead queen’s goals have had far reaching consequences that threaten to unravel everything they have accomplished thus far.
I couldn’t have been more pleased to find out there was a new book in the Mage-Born Chronicles. Reshi and Kestrel are two of my favourite characters in fantasy, and Sorcerous Rivalry was, and still is, one of my favourite reads, needless to say but, I jumped on the opportunity to read this when Kayleigh offered ARC.
Mage Prince feels like Niko’s story to me, and I was OK with that because I think for this series to have growth, it needed to have another perspective outside of Reshi and Kestrel. (And it’s not like we don’t get them at all.)
Niko, now king, is one of our main POVs. Most of the focus in this book is centralized in the capital with Niko, as he tries to balance ruling, family, and visiting delegates, while trying to keep his Chief Ambassador to the Mage Guild from shirking his duties (any guesses who that might be?) all this on too little sleep.
Niko has become such a serious man, he’s the total opposite of Reshi; with his humorous tone and antics. You can feel the weight of the kingdom on Niko’s shoulders, and in every decision he makes, thankfully Niko is not alone in ruling as his partner Ammon, and his Queen Couressa, are there to support and share the burden.
I didn’t think anyone could fill the Kila-size hole in my heart but then came along Couressa. I loved her to pieces. Strong, decisive, and caring. She was probably my favourite character in this book. And I loved the relationship between the three of them (Niko, Ammon and Couressa) and how they made sharing the ruling, and each other, work so well, while respecting each other’s positions. It made for an interesting dynamic and I really enjoyed the three of them.
Reshi, of course, is our other main POV. He is still his charming rogue-self but he has definitely grown and matured, which is obvious from his attitude, actions, and especially his relationship with Kestrel (though he does still like to annoy the hell out of Ammon).
I also adored the young prince, Jiraiashin, from the Ravennan’s delegation. Though I did question his choice at the end after everything that went before, I did understand it. There is a lot grey area in this book with choices being made that maybe go against your heart but not your principles. It makes for tough moments for our characters.
We get a sense that the world is a bigger place in this story than the narrow focus implies as we deal with the delegates from Ravennan and other countries that have gathered for the heir appointing ceremonies. And like in the previous books Kayleigh Nicol hits on some touchy subjects, like slavery, etc, giving this a darker feel, more in line with the second book than the first.
Mage Prince is full of family, friends, and conversation – it’s noisy and brimming with life, letting you feel like you have a window into the world they are living in. That ‘life noise’ goes a long way in helping to temper that darker subject matter.
I sometimes felt very sorry for Niko and all the mother-henning he was getting from around him and also for having to deal with Ammon and Reshi, who are like a couple of thirteen-year old’s in the back seat of a very long car ride.
There were a few filler scenes that while I love seeing the characters interact and build, and get to care about what and whom they care about, they got a little long and started to feel somewhat repetitive in places. I found myself skimming a bit through these after a while.
If you read the Mage-Born anthology you will be happy with all the cameos and nods that tie-in here. This is completing or at least touching base, and giving closure to some of the sibling’s pasts, and characters in the first books. We also have some Easter eggs for those who have read the anthology though if you didn’t, no big deal, you’ll catch on easy enough to the relationships.