Review: The Exercise of Vital Powers by Ian Gregoire

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It’s… a cover. >.>

Hooray for the #SPFBO! This book is a semi-finalist in this year’s SPFBO. It totally beat out another book from this year that I really enjoyed to become a semi-finalist, too, so, yay for this book!

Also I was offered a free copy by the author in exchange for an honest review of it.

Since its inception, The Order has been dedicated to the prevention of the misuse and abuse of magic. For seven decades this mandate has guaranteed peace and stability throughout The Nine Kingdoms. But a potential threat to the peace has emerged, and its source is much closer to home than the leadership of The Order may realise.

Arrogant, manipulative, confrontational and angry. Undesirable qualities in a person at the best of times, but more so in a young woman born with the power to bring kingdoms to their knees. Kayden Jayta, precocious apprentice of The Order, is all these things and more, yet wholly unwilling to acknowledge and rectify her many troubling traits.

Unbeknown to anyone, Kayden’s resolute determination to join the ranks of The Order is born of a secret that puts her priorities at odds with the precepts of the organisation, setting her inexorably on a collision course with the most powerful institution in The Nine Kingdoms.

If Kayden is to be dissuaded from walking the path she has chosen, averting tragic consequences in the process, two unanswered questions must be answered: What is the dark secret guiding Kayden’s actions? And, why has a legendary figure within The Order, with a secret of her own, taken undue interest in Kayden’s future?

It is a sad truth that those who crave and seek power, invariably abuse that power once they obtain it.

Man. This is the textbook definition of a book that you should not judge by its cover. I mean really. Goddamn.

I don’t know what I was expecting, really, but I don’t think I was expecting such an engaging, well thought out story from a self-published debut novel that I had never heard of before being offered a copy of it (and yes… at this point I should definitely have learned my lesson about expecting more from self-published debuts because several of them are among my favorite books of all time now. My bad >.>).

This book follows Kayden, a young lady who is an apprentice of The Order. The Order is somewhat like the Ministry of Magic of this world, which has different types of magic and different classes of magic users. Kayden is a really strong, snarky, and determined character who is dead set on being made a full member of The Order no matter what it takes. She’s in it to win it.

We start off right in the action during an assignment of 6 or so apprentices having to steal a box from an abandoned building. Nobody has ever succeeded in stealing the box. The assignment is pretty much set up to fail. It’s like the Kobayashi Maru of this magical boading school/university/military school. Well, Kayden’s group goes in and she, being deadset on winning the thing, instantly takes command, sacrifices most of the rest of her group, and relies on quick wits and all the skills that she possesses (and what she possesses is years ahead of other people her age) to go ahead and… well… win the thing. 😃

I found myself starting this one before bed, and staying up late to read it. We’re thrust right into this world with little explanation. The magic system and all its terms are thrown at you, and I admittedly was really confused for the first twenty minutes or so, but believe me that it does get an explanation, and it makes sense after a little while. The magic system is actually really neat, and it makes sense.

Kayden isn’t a very likable character at all for the first 3/4 of the book, and I thought that I was going to have a harder time with that fact, but she grows as a character as the story progresses, and that helped a lot. I liked Fay a lot too, and for me, it does help to have a character to like. Kayden is very arrogant, often jumping to conclusions that revolve around either her skill or her beauty, assuming that all manner of people don’t like her because they’re jealous of her. She’s usually way off the mark. She may be very skilled and very pretty, but she really is a turbo-bitch, often for very little reason, or an assumed reason that is way past the mark. One thing she is right about though is that people at her school really, really don’t like her, going so far as to attempt to beat the living shit out of her, which seemed really over-the-top, but then, teenagers can go really over-the-top, so it’s still very much in the realm of believability.

The one real criticism I’ve got for it is that it could use a bit more editing. Not many spelling errors to be seen, but there are occasionally misused or missing words that lead me to guess what was being said. Mostly it could just use a bit of polishing, because there are some ideas that seem to pop up a lot. Let’s just say that there will soon be a lot of baby silences, because nearly every silence in this book is pregnant. It’s just little things like this that I noticed. Not a huge deal. 😊

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Yeah, that Kobayashi Maru.

All told, I really liked this one, but I didn’t totally love it. I didn’t find myself cheering for Kayden too much, and so when the plotline went to places that she did care about, I didn’t always follow suit. Still, it’s a well written book and I think it’s very right to be a semi-finalist in the SPFBO! It’s definitely worth your time. 😊

You can see this book on goodreads here, and buy it on amazon here.

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