Rowan is a mage in the city of Everstrand. There he is the youngest mage to earn not one, but two masters in different schools of magic, and he is determined to earn all five. Rowan owns a shop where he makes enchantments and enjoys spending time with his best friend, Caleb, a werewolf. One day, Rowan is stopped by a knight from the Inquisition, an organization charged with policing the magical races. While the Inquisition should just be stopping wrong doers, lately stories are surfacing of aggressive and violent behavior, and even magicae disappearing. When the knight tries to arrest Rowan, Shaw, another inquisitor, steps in.
After meeting Rowan, Shaw can’t get him out of his head. He knows he has a critical mission in Everstrand and getting involved with Rowan is a bad idea, yet he still can’t stay away. As the two men get to know one another, they begin to fall for each other and realize that they are truly meant to be together.
Even as their relationship grows, Shaw and Rowan both face problems. There is a dark mage killing people, and Rowan and the council of mages are desperate to stop him before the Inquisition learns about it. For his part, Shaw is determined to find out what the Inquisition is up to and what is happening to the magicae who are disappearing. Both tasks are vital, yet each could be deadly. Now Shaw and Caleb must hope they can stop the evil forces and escape with their lives if they are going to have the future they dream of together.
I picked up A Mage’s Power for New-to-Me Author Week as part of our Reading Challenge Month and I have to say, I was totally delighted by this one. The standout for me here is the really creative and engaging world building. The setting of the book is best described as a contemporary fantasy. The story exists in a world not unlike ours in many ways, with coffee shops, cars, cell phones, and other modern elements. But at the same time, there is very clearly a fantasy feel to the book, making it kind of a hybrid genre that I found incredibly interesting. I loved the incorporation of the various magical creatures, like werewolves, centaurs, and mer folk. We also get some really fun world building centered around Rowan’s magic and the way all that works. So I was really excited by the way Wolfe has built this world and found it a standout part of the story.
The book balances well between the relationship end and the suspense/conflict side of things. Shaw and Rowan are lovely together, just both sweet, caring guys who are honest with their feelings and really bond together. There isn’t much conflict on this end, and while Shaw and Rowan both worry getting together may be a bad idea, it doesn’t really stand in their way and there really aren’t any negative consequences. What I liked is the tenderness and openness both men have toward one another. They fall hard and I found them sweet and engaging. FWIW, the sex here is all fade to black, but I didn’t find myself missing it. There is just such a nice connection between these guys and it build well even without explicit scenes. I’ll also throw in how much I loved the relationship between Caleb and Rowan. They are best friends and incredibly close. I particularly loved how Shaw respects the closeness of their relationship, in particular the physical closeness (being a wolf, Caleb is very tactile), and doesn’t get jealous of their friendship, but instead embraces it and becomes part of their close-knit group.
On the suspense side, there are two big issues — stopping the dark mage, and figuring out what is happening to the disappearing magicae. I thought both conflicts were interesting. Dealing with the dark mage gives us a chance to get more of a look into the inner workings of the mages, as well as to see Rowan really come into his own in terms of his magic use. The Inquisition plot is somewhat bigger and seems to be building into more of a series conflict. I thought there were some nice parallels here with some political issues today, particularly as the Inquisition begins to extend its reach and the magicae are fearful that one wrong move could leave them snatched away. While the resolution to this conflict comes on a pretty grand scale, it did fall a tiny bit flat for me. While Rowan is involved on kind of a secondary level, the main action here involves Caleb and Shaw. We aren’t in Rowan’s POV at all during this portion, which I really missed. This is partly because seeing the events from his viewpoint would have been interesting, but also because this book feels most like his journey so it was somewhat strange and muted to have him feel out of the climax of the story.
Overall I found this book really engaging and a creative new world. I am super excited to follow along with the rest of the trilogy and see where things go. While we do get our HEA for Shaw and Rowan, it seems like there are many themes that can still be explored, not to mention a new couple appearing on the horizon. So I am excited about this one for sure and can definitely recommend it!
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-To-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of six $20 gift cards to NineStar Press. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-To-Me Author Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.