Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Kyruis has had a life full of woe. Shuffled from one foster family to the next, unwanted because he is different, a freak of nature, Kyruis has never felt safe, never been safe a day in his life. Kyruis is a wanted man. He’s an Astral Mage, better known as a “Soul Giver,” a race of people who can bring people, animals, and things back to life by reattaching their energy or souls. Now most people believe that Astral Mages are but a myth since so few exist in the galaxy. But for those who know better, the Astral Mages are captured and traded for the highest fee and that is Kyruis’ current fate.
Kyruis is a prisoner on a spaceship, captured and sold to the highest bidder when pirates attack the ship he is on. When Captain Tilbarr of the spaceship Wolf brings Kyruis on board his ship, he has no idea that not only has he found a true Astral Mage, but also the one person who makes him feel alive and in love. But the Confederated Authority, the governing body for planets, is hot on their trail and it wants Kyruis at any cost. Just as Tilbarr realizes how much he has come to care for Kyruis, Tilbarr also realizes that he might have to give the Astral Mage up or lose his ship and his friends in the bargain. When the Captain must choose between love and loyalty to his crew, can there be any winner?
The Astral Mage is the first book I have read by this author and it appears to be the first in a science fiction series. However, I think that although this book shows some promise, I will be stopping here. Let’s go over some of the more winning aspects of the story. Cosmo works very hard at building a detailed and interesting universe in which to place the story. At the end of the book, the author has included a complex and lengthy Terms and Definitions section that covers everything from construction elements and minerals, to names of the Wolf’s crew, to extinct bird species and insects. One glance at this part of the book and you have the pros and cons of this author’s writing. Cosmo is so absorbed in her world building that minutiae that is not relevant to the story basics is included, but not a lot of information about the titular race of the story. For example, here is her entry for Screaming Vulture Beasts:
Screaming Vulture Beasts: They are large birds that live in several of the extremely deep craggy valleys that exist on Velel. They are brutal beasts that rip apart their living prey when they capture it, usually in flight. Ancient history of the planet denoted tribes would throw livestock off the cliffs to keep the beasts fed so they would not feed on the people. In modern day, though, the beasts have become wary of the people knowing they can and will kill them if they come close. There are warning systems in place that warn the towns and cities as well if the birds approach. They have become more of a tourist attraction although to get close enough to watch them feed is still considered very dangerous and ultimately stupid.
To be honest, I don’t even remember them in the story as interesting as they sound. But this story is so jammed packed with “stuff” that the important facts and issues are overlooked. There are pages of entries like this. But her entry for the Mages? This is the sum total, already given in the same words in the story:
Astral Mage: The Soul Givers. There are also “carriers”, who are the only ones able to give birth to an Astral Mage. The blood line started to dissipate due to inter-relations with other species. A full-blooded carrier is rare and full-blooded Astral Mages are even rarer.
The author gets so lost in the extraneous details that she forgets the focus of her story is that of the Astral Mages and that happens from the beginning. We start the story of The Astral Mage with Kyrius a prisoner on a spaceship rocketing to a destination where he is to be handed off to some unnamed buyer. Kyruis is a rare almost mythical creature, but the Captain of that ship treats him as he would a whore. This makes no sense considering the fees that are being paid for Kyruis and has been inserted to bring a prurient angle to the story. You know the author is in trouble when things so south right from the beginning. Then the story switches focus from Kyrius to Tilbarr, the Captain of the Wolf, who attacks the ship Kyrius is on and the book becomes The Captain of the Wolf (The Astral Mage #1) instead of the other way around. And once the attention is on Tilbarr and his feelings about the mage, it remains there for the rest of the story. While the reader is patiently waiting to learn more about the Mages, their history, genetic makeup, anything about mages, we get more information about cargos, and metals, and insects and things we really don’t care about. One of the first things I wanted to know was why only one type of mage? That doesn’t make any sense either. Surely if there is one type of gift or magic, there are others. But as we are given absolutely no information, who knows?
Then there are the characterizations. Cosmo can’t decide if Kyruis is a young, innocent victim in need of a savior or a sexually experienced being with hidden resources and strengths, wounded faun or clever mouse, child or sex object. Cosmo swings back and forth between the two with a rapidity that will give the reader whiplash. The same divided characterization haunts Tilbarr as well, seasoned pirate or gullible sailor with a need for love? Honestly, the wavering characteristics make it hard to believe in any of the characters you meet while reading this story. That lack of believability has always meant a lack of connectivity for the reader as well and it shows here.
So while there are some nice points and creative aspects to The Astral Mage, in the end it is overwhelmed by too many extraneous details, weak characters, and a missing focal point. I would give this a pass, there are better m/m science fiction stories out there.
Cover design by Lee Tiffin doesn’t make any more sense than the book does.