by Kate Elliott
Published by Tordotcom
Releasing on January 18th, 2022
Fellion is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.
Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.
But Fellion has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…
In Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage, a lowly fire mage finds herself entangled in an empire-spanning conspiracy on her way to discovering her true power.
Representation: Side Polyamory
*I WAS PROVIDED A PHYSICAL GALLEY BY THE PUBLISHER IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*
I truly had higher hopes for this book. What I expected to be a well-developed novella became a disappointing read that I yearned for more from.
Kate Elliott has a fantastic writing style. It was easy to fall into the book, and it made it harder to put down. I found myself staying up at late hours of the night to read, and I thought about this book a lot while at work. There is so much detail in Elliott’s writing that the reader is quickly able to picture what is occurring and almost stand in the shoes of the characters.
However, there’s such a thing as too much detail, and it also plays into having too much imagery. That was the problem I found myself faced with in reading Servant Mage. A good chunk of this book was Fellian and the team that’d taken her from servitude walking or traveling. It spoke of adventures outside of their current predicament, so much so that I found myself second-guessing this wasn’t a standalone but rather a part of a series (and to my knowledge, it is not). When the characters weren’t traveling, they were delving into not detailed-enough politics and action sequences that I had a difficult time interpreting as they played about. This is due to the overwhelming amount of detail and imagery.
The problem with having so much described and explained to readers is that it takes away from the actual story. This novella could’ve been much better had the author not relied so heavily on describing things and rather focused on the characters and plot that just weren’t fully there. Fellian as a whole started out as someone who was headstrong but subdued due to her forced servitude. However, when she became a part of a team of rebel Monarchists, the only thing that really changed about her was that she asked a lot of questions. Otherwise, she stayed completely the same. In another sense, it almost felt as though she were the reader’s pawn to see everything happening around her, but not what she was particularly thinking or doing very often.
Along with that, I struggled to really connect to the plot of this story. Originally, the rebels had wanted to head in one direction for one goal, but it changed once a child was born that contained a power strong enough that the Liberationist leader wanted to have it killed. The action sequence that ensued with this secondary plot was, again, lackluster, and I found myself with more disappointment. And to top it off, the ending of this book left off on such a note that makes it difficult for me to imagine that there’s more to this story. There were parts that had been laid out extremely close to the end that left an open, bitter note to what would take place, but the author made it seem as though there would be a continuation, and I just do not see that as feasible.
Overall, I was let down by my reading of the Servant Mage, and for that, I rate it 2 stars. Kate Elliott has a lot of potential as an author, and if she does choose to continue in this story’s world, I hope to see it a bit more developed with not as much detail-heavy writing.
As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. She currently lives in Hawaii, where she paddles outrigger canoes and spoils her schnauzer.