Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

To anyone who’s not a magician, Talisman “Talis” Morning surely seems lucky. If it’s raining, he does not get wet. If he’s cold, someone happens by with an extra cloak. If he’s hungry, he stumbles upon a penny he can use to buy a treat. Any outsider would surely think this is nothing but good fortune. However, Talis has lived with this “fortune” for years, and he knows better than anyone that what may be lucky for him could spell disaster for someone else. For the last couple years, Talis has been trying to reign in (if not gain outright control of) his magic at the Magician’s School in Averene. Yet for all his efforts and the efforts of the school’s staff, he makes no progress. Talis feels more and more like a danger to those around him and is on the verge of taking desperate action when he meets Jeryn “Jer” de Marchaut.

Golden and muscular, that’s Talis’ first impression of Jer. When he learns the lieutenant of the king’s scouts is on a mission to foil a rumored attempt in the king’s life, Talis adds “heroic” to that description. If a man as capable and competent as Jer is looking for help from magicians, the threat must be great indeed. Which is why Talis is so puzzled Jer insists on having his help. Talis’ efforts to disabuse Jer of the notion that Talis’ magic would be useful go nowhere. Then, Jer confesses that Talis is the only person who has given Jer’s story any serious consideration.

Immediately, Talis and Jer feel drawn to each other. Big and strong Jer appeals to Talis physically, but so does the way Jer unquestionably values Talis’ opinion and never fails to give Talis’ magic the benefit of the doubt when it comes to helpfulness. Talis, on the other hand, appeals to Jer more for the way he undeniably needs someone to care for him, about him. Jer hopes that will translate into being able to take care of Talis, too. Together, these two have a chance at unraveling the rumors of a plot against the king. But they’ll have to work fast if they hope to uncover the enemy before the deed is done.

Apprentice Luck is a delightful fantasy set in the same world as Magician and The Twelfth Enchantment. Author K.L. Noone takes readers back to the fictional world of Averene and introduces an entirely new and instantly likable cast of characters. There is far less focus on power dynamics between royals and magicians. Instead, the biggest drama in the story comes entirely from the connection between Talis and Jer. First, of course, is their working relationship. This feels very straightforward, but as our two main characters get to know each other, it’s revealed that Talis simply trusting Jar’s word that there is treason afoot acts as a firm foundation for their romantic connection to develop. And while the timeline may be compressed into days rather than weeks or months, Talis and Jer both discover how they each complement the other in terms of personality and desires and overall temperament. In other words, the quantity of time makes this seem like a candidate for the “instalove” tag, but the quality of time and interaction between the MC makes it feel like they’ve truly fallen for each other in that span.

Personally, I really loved the character Jer. His background is well fleshed out with details about his life growing up on a farm versus the life he built for himself in Averene. He comes across as unfailingly genuine and sincere. I loved how he first gets drawn to Talis, also. For Jeryn, just the fact that finally another person believes in helping uncover the truth, whatever it may be, was enough for Talis to win his undying devotion. It just felt story book perfect. Speaking of story book perfect, the way the prose describes Jeryn abounds with wonderfully saccharine sentiment. He is golden and godlike, his eyes are passionate storm clouds, and he is undeniably heroic in any endeavor. (Note: Generally, I did enjoy how complimentary Jer’s descriptors were, but there were times when it felt a touch overbearing even for me.)

Conversely, Talis feels like a deliciously (small “t”) tragic character. He grew up an orphan, lost his initial found family, ends up at the school for magicians and fails at accomplishing any of the expectations for an apprentice, and he is convinced he will never understand his magic, let alone be able to do anything purposeful with it. When we first meet Talis, he’s literally contemplating giving it all up, wandering into the forest, and letting what will happen happen. When he randomly meets Jer just before he can see through on his promise of disappearing into the woods, we see that for all Talis struggles to accept his ability, he is willing to set aside his doubt on the extraordinarily slim chance his own magical luck just may help Jer.

One of the biggest overarching threads in the story is the arc of personal growth and literal development that Talis experiences. This was very satisfying to read. From the beginning, I was wondering if Talis was in some way connected to Lorre (MC of Magician) and his so-called wild magic where he could literally become air, water, what have you. I really enjoyed how thoroughly Talis’ journey from the worst apprentice ever to his more refined form draws on the lore built into this world. Even if you have not read any of the previous books, I think you’ll still appreciate the transformation in Talis— but if you have read the books, then I think you’ll just have an even more robust appreciation for the changes in Talis.

Finally, the romance between Jer and Talis was a fun take on what domination and submission (or at least power dynamics; who gives it, who wields it) might look like in a fantasy world. The development felt organic and well-paced. Even though both Talis and Jer immediately had the spark of desire for each other, they did not immediately fall into bed. I loved that build up of anticipation–and there were times it was pretty blatant. Their intimate experiences also slowly introduced more and more of their dominant or submissive preferences. I felt the whole dynamic was delightfully respectful and consensual with a lot of enthusiastic affirmation, which made this part of the book very enjoyable.

Overall, I thought Apprentice’s Luck is a great addition to this family of stories. The writing and world building made for a wonderfully immersive experience. Fans of opposites attract or hurt/comfort themes, giving and taking control in the bedroom, found family, glow-ups, and, of course, magi will all find plenty to enjoy in this book.