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Elisha Magus
by E.C. Ambrose
Daw, $7.99 mass market pb, 386 pp
Published: March 2015

This is the second book of a series and I chose to skip reading the first book.  I think you would enjoy it more if you took the time to read the first book.  It probably took me about a quarter of the book to feel “caught up.”

Elisha Magus was low-born and in the first book he discovered he could do magic.  In an epic battle, he apparently found it necessary to kill a King.  He would prefer to return to a simple life as a barber and a medic but his talents are greatly in demand these days…unless they’re trying to kill him.  In this world, there are three classes of magic-wielders.  The first, and most common, are the Magus.  Feared and almost mythical, are the Necromancers; of which there is little proof that they even exist.  The fact they seem to be trying to kill Elisha argues for their existence.  Thirdly are the indivisi; these are Magus but sort of like an autistic-magus.  They are insanely good at one thing; unfortunately, that one thing tends to take over their complete existence so there is little left for a normal life.  Elisha is trying to figure out where he fits in as his talents are not easily catalogued.  He seems to be very good at either defeating Death or wielding it.  This causes many to confuse him with necromancers who deal in death but whose goal is really the pain and terror end of the business – and although they can easily cause death, they cannot defeat it.  The indivisi think Elisha might be one of them.  He found he was able to communicate secretly with them but having finally met them, he doubts he fits in with them, either.

In between trying to understand himself and avoiding being murdered by the elusive necromancers; he also finds himself in between two Kings.  One soon-to-be-King is the one he supported in the first book’s battle by killing the prince’s father, who was a very bad man.  The other possible King is the prince’s brother, who may have a stronger claim to the throne but is being hunted to death by his own brother.  Poor Elisha has quite a bit on his plate since everyone looks to him as the deciding force.

As I said, it took me a while to get caught up with the story as the author did not provide much in the way of backstory.  This is rather unfortunate if the author wishes to entice new readers into the series.  If I hadn’t had to read this book, I might have put it down.  As it is, I’m rather glad I did not.  The most interesting plot device is the way magic works in this world – using affinity.  Now this is not an easy concept to render into a few words.  It involves knowing something so well that you could recreate it if you wanted.  The author uses this most intriguingly by making it both an offensive weapon and a defensive one. And this is a very poor description; it is much more interesting to read about.

The characterizations were great and the plot was interesting; although a bit ponderous. If the next book focuses more on Elisha’s talents, it should be pretty interesting. I’ll be watching for it. ~~ Catherine Book

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