Review: Mage’s Blood by David Hair

Mage’s Blood by David Hair

3.5 out of 5


The world of Mage’s blood is very rich, with clearly defined differences between the various cultures but it is not subtle.  The overarching plot of the Moontide is obviously heavily influenced by the 11th and 12th century Crusades and the cultures can be very easily divided into Eastern and Western as it would be done in reality.

The Moontide is an event which happens every twelve years.  Two continents, Yuros and Antiopia, are separated by water but connected by a bridge which is only passable during Moontide.  The western continent uses this time to invade the eastern continent.

The Moontide plot is very much a background event in the first novel, it does not come about until the epilogue, so the characters are very much just living their lives and preparing for the Moontide.  As such, there are times when the novel moves very slowly as the plot takes almost all of its 671 pages to become apparent which might be frustrating for people who enjoy books with a lot of action and a very fast pace but, on the other hand, the slow pace of the novel means there is a lot of time spent with the main characters.

There are three main characters: Elena Anborn, a mage protecting the Royal family in Javon, Alaron Mercer, Elena’s nephew, who is a student (and later failed) mage, and Ramita Ankesharan, a daughter’s merchant in Lakh; who is chosen by the mage who united the two continents with the bridge, Antonin Meiros to be his wife as her lineage is almost guaranteed to produce multiple births and he needs children.  The chapters alternate between them and a few others, Gurvon Gyle and Kazim; for example.

The characters are what make the book so interesting.  They are all fascinating people and well developed throughout the book; whether good, bad or of dubious morality and the slow pace of the plot means that Hair takes the time to introduce all of the primary characters and their stories develop heavily throughout the novel.  You get to know them all very well, the characters are rich and deep, their motivations are clear and by the end of the book you can tell which side the characters lie.   This slow pace might be frustrating for anyone who wants a novel which hits the ground running but, for people like me, the slow pace and character development is welcome.

On the whole I did enjoy Mage’s Blood.  I enjoyed the main characters, whom I found sympathetic and likeable and the plot, although slow, was enjoyable but there were times when I felt it could have picked up the pace a little.  The novel is 671 pages and whilst there is a lot of plotting, intrigue and setting for the following books, there were times when I felt a little bit bored by what was happening.  There was a bit too much filler and it could have been trimmed a little to be leaner.  By the end, however, it was fantastic and the end of Mage’s Blood left me wanting to read more.  If I’d had Scarlet Tides to hand, I’d probably have started reading it straight away.


The next review will be on Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.




The Book Which Changed My Life

Books are wonderful.  They have the ability to transport you to hundreds of different worlds, to fall in love with hundreds of characters and, for a short time, you can lose yourself in their pages.  There are books you love, books you hate and, most importantly, books that change your life.

The book which changed my life isn’t a great classic.  It isn’t long but it has had a profound impact on my life.  Seven years ago, when I started my MA in British History a lecturer asked us to think about why we chose to start an MA and for me the answer was simple.  I love history.  I love history because of this book:

The Awesome Egyptians by Terry Deary


I was seven when this book was released and until then I didn’t really think that much about history.  Sure, it was a subject at school but it wasn’t one that I put much thought into or really loved.  Then I was introduced to the Awesome Egyptians.

Love at first read is a phrase that adequately describes how I felt about this book.  I was in year 3 at school at the time and we had just started studying the Ancient Egyptians and this book transformed the way I looked at history.

It was the gruesomeness that sucked me in.  A few months ago I was watching TV and there was a discussion about how some schools and universities are changing their syllabuses to remove some of the more what some would call “unseemly” elements, such as sex and violence (my own opinion on that is you shouldn’t censor your courses just because some people might find it “triggering”.  If you can’t deal with that sort of thing then you shouldn’t take the course in the first place), and I realised that it was the gory elements of life (and death) in Ancient Egypt that made me so interested.  The tagline of the Horrible Histories books is “History with the gory bits left in” and, as a child, that is a great thing to hear.  Kids are fascinated by blood and guts, so to market an entire series of children’s books on that premise is genius.

It was a series that set out to make history interesting to children and it succeeded in that completely.  The books are everything a child could want: they are funny, they are gross and they don’t patronise.

Fast forward to eleven years later and I was choosing to complete a history degree and it is thanks to that book.  I loved it, still do and I loved all the ones I read after that.  The Vicious Vikings made me interested in Viking history, The Vile Victorians made me enjoy the nineteenth century and, although my interest in Tudor and Roman history has waned over the years, The Terrible Tudors and The Rotten Romans gave me so much pleasure as a child.

One book, and then one series, has given me a lifelong interest in History.  After fantasy, history is my favourite genre of books to read.  The past fascinates me, Beamish and Durham Cathedral are my two favourite places to visit, and it is all because of a children’s book so thank you Terry Deary and your wonderful series.

The TV series is also fabulous.

What book changed your life?  And why?