Jun 2, 2011

eBook Review–MageSign by Alan Baxter

magesign-cover-smallA double edged sword

One of the nice things about social networking is being able to interact with authors, talk about their work, or indeed just chat about life in general.  The downside to building a connection(however superficial) with a writer, is that when you come to review their work, it can make your job as a reviewer much harder. 

I was not really a fan of Alan Baxter’s first novel RealmShift reviewed here and I had concerns that I might have similar issues with MageSign.

I am happy to report that I found MageSign to be a far better reading experience and in my humble opinion a far better constructed tale.

The Tale Continues…

MageSign picks up three years after the events in RealmShift.  Isiah our all powerful immortal protagonist is tracking down the sorcerer who trained the despicable Samuel Harrigan in RealmShift

Usually backed up by the mysterious entity called ‘The Balance’, Isiah is left to go it alone in MageSign. Neither helped nor hindered, Isiah sets out to track down the sorcerer and discovers  a deadly cult set on world domination through the use of blood magic. He finds love, danger and death along the way.

A slow start

Initially I had misgivings, while I felt the writing was a little more engaging, the prose was still too florid for my tastes. The language was evocative and I could see that Baxter was trying to establish a certain mood but it felt to me that he was laying on the atmosphere too heavily – to the detriment of pacing. 

MageSign is a sequel and like a lot of authors there’s some exposition used to bring those readers who haven’t read RealmShift up to date.  Always hard to achieve without annoying readers who have read the previous work, these sections grated with me and felt a little clunky.

Like flipping a switch

My feeling and my enjoyment changed immediately when Baxter introduced the character of Faith.  It was almost as if a switch had been flipped.  The writing was less florid and more honest and it seemed from this point on that Baxter had found a groove, a balance to his story telling. There was only one further instance here I felt jolted from the story– when Faith has an internal monologue ranting against modern society(the cynicism was a little too refined for her 15 year old character) and that like RealmShift the author’s voice was intruding on the character’s.  It’s all well and good to make social comment but I think the comment needed to be subtler. Despite these two minor instances though I was in the grip of the novel.

Danger, Death and Love

One of the major issues I had with Realmshift was that I didn’t connect with Isiah, he was all powerful, I never felt that he or anything important to him was at risk.  Baxter certainly changed that with MageSign .  First, Isiah is in the dark for much of the story, ‘The Balance’ is of no help to him and he goes it alone and subsequently the reader is swept up in the mystery, that Isiah attempts to unravel. Isiah also gets a love interest with its requisite sexual tension, innuendo and witty banter.  The Archangel Gabriel features more strongly in  MageSign and the reader gets a much better sense of the relationship that Isiah and he share. Finally, and  without wanting to spoil it for the rest of you, there’s an unexpected twist that will have you racing through chapters to find out what had happened to one of the main characters.

Best is yet to come

MageSign is a much better book than RealmShift .  I felt that Alan Baxter really began to hit his straps in this book.  It’s not perfect by any means, but there were glimpses of some really good, economical and engaging writing.  I’ll be watching Alan’s writing with continued interest as I think his best work is ahead of him.

This eBook was provided by the author at no cost to myself.

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