I really enjoyed Sorcerous Rivalry, and so when this anthology came about with stories about Reshi’s brothers and sisters, I couldn’t help but grab a copy. It’s been a sort of mission of mine to read bits of it between bigger novels. It’s admittedly taken a long time though.
Before they became known as the dangerous mage-born bastards, Reshi’s brothers and sisters were young mages growing into their powers in a kingdom that forbids the use of magic. This collection of short stories follows Eagan, Kila, Velyn and the rest of Reshi’s magical siblings as they develop their magic and learn to survive during the period known as the Great Mage Hunt. From the political intrigue of noble houses, to the secrets of the Order of the Great Canvas, from the great seaside ports to the mystical lands of the fae, each of the mage-born come up with their own unique solutions to living in a world that will kill them if their secret is discovered.
Oh anthologies. You take me literally forever to get through. Such is the world of reading bits of them around other things, I guess. This one took an absolute aaaage to get through, by no fault of its own, of course, but mainly because I was so busy with review requests and the SPFBO that I couldn’t really even stop to read a story from this in between. It kind of fell off my radar for a bit but never fear! I always picked it back up for more!
Wayward Scholar – We start this one out with a story about Reina, who is the oldest Mage-Born sibling. The story takes place when she first learns she has magical powers, and includes a little bit of her efforts to control them and how she went about scoring a magical education. It also features Eagan a little bit. I found this story difficult to get through not because it wasn’t written well or anything, but because I honestly never really cared for Reina and thus didn’t really care for her here either. Honestly I should have skipped it when I realized I wasn’t digging it because it took me longer trying to get through it regardless. Oh well. It was good insight into Reina’s life and motivations all the same.
Noble Ambition – This story is about Eagan, a fire mage and the second-oldest of the kiddos. This story was hard to put down! Eagan is seventeen in this story, a blackout drunk, and promiscuous to the point of having slept with pretty much everyone in his circle of influence, with the exception of Arazeli, the woman whose family is in talks to enter into betrothal to him. I liked this story, because really I ended up liking Eagan’s manservant, sometimes bedmate, and best friend Tresance. He’s usually there to clean up Eagan’s messes, and is… pretty much unfailingly faithful to Eagan. Kind of adorable really. So, when a couple of mage hunters show up in town, shenanigans go down. And Eagan, as it turns out… is Eagan. ಠ_ಠ
Warrior’s Weakness – This story follows Kila, and more or less details some of her exploits in military school. She is fifteen in this story, and is already so proficient with most weapons that they have to how special instructors too even teach her at all. As the magical wards have been randomly going off (wonder why), the school brings in an expert, and with him comes her new special instructor. Omiro is fast as hell, and Kila has no idea how he keeps winning against her, but she knows he’s there to teach her something, so she’ll roll with it. When they take on guarding a caravan together, all sorts of shenanigans take place. Fun times!
Star Signs – This one is about Laki. He is also fifteen in this story, and it takes place about a month or so after Kila’s story. Laki is a novitiate at what is basically a monastery. The monks choose a path when they’re sixteen, which is kind of like choosing your profession, or order. He’s still a year away, but suddenly a few of the people in the warrior-monk order come calling hoping to get him to pledge to them early so they can use his parentage to their advantage. Their plans are thrown off course when Laki gets a sign he believes is urging him to join a different order.
Storm Front – Ahhh finally. Velyn’s story. We’re going in order of age, so he’s second to last of Reshi’s siblings. Velyn grew up mostly in an orphanage, because the king and his mistress apparently decided that after pawning off their children on other noble families, school, church, and military, that they were out of ideas on where to put them. This story follows Velyn and his best friend Tawni as they go out fishing for clams in order to make cash to buy themselves their own ship. With Velyn being a wind mage and Tawni a salt-mage, they’re more or less the perfect team to crew a fishing boat. When they get caught in a storm, some shenanigans go down. I really enjoyed this story most of all. Tawni is a great character, and the relationship between him and Velyn was endearing.
Blind Side – Cera’s story. She is part of an acting troupe, traveling the land with her family, boyfriend, and troupe. When one of the troupe is injured in a bar fight, all sorts of shenanigans go down. I really enjoyed this story as well. This and Velyn’s tale were my run away favorites.
We also get a few bonus stories. One is a brief look at what happened when the Mage-Born bounties went into effect and people began hunting the siblings (which left me with questions). Another is a story about Wix, which I really enjoyed. Thirdly, there’s a story about Ammon and his sister Zera in which Kestral makes an appearance.
All told, I enjoyed this anthology quite a bit, even if it took me forever to read. I think, in the end, that it was because I didn’t love the first few stories and set it aside for too long. I was far more inclined to read on after finishing a story I liked a lot, so once I got to Laki’s story, I was on board far more. Some people may love Eagan, Kila, and Reina’s stories a lot more than I did. 4/5 stars!