Cover Image: Servant Mage

Servant Mage

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Servant Mage by Kate Elliott is a novella set in a world where a magical monarchy has been overthrown by sort-of Cromwellian fascists who forcibly take all magical children and brainwash them into indentured servitude. It’s definitely in conversation with the style of epic fantasy in which the monarchy is always good and right. The protagonist, Fellian, is a fire mage whose mother and Older Father were executed by the government for sedition. She’s rescued from servitude by rogue monarchist mages who need her help; Fellian negotiates with them for a fair exchange, then helps them with a couple of missions. However, in the end, Fellian is still not converted to the monarchist cause, and has plans of her own. What I really would like to see is where Fellian goes from here.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Tordotcom and NetGalley for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I really enjoyed this novella! The magic system was really cool; I always like reading new takes on elemental magic. The characters were likeable and the worldbuilding was interesting. I liked that there was clearly a lot more to the world than what we saw in the course of this story. It gave the setting and worldbuilding a lot of depth so the world felt properly fleshed out even though the story was short. 

I thought the condemnation of the Monarchists as an alternative to the Liberationists that would be equally as bad for the masses could have been stronger; the way it was discussed in the text was a little too weak for the point to have been made as firmly as it should have been.

Otherwise I thought this was a really great read. The expansive worldbuilding definitely gives the author room to explore heaps of other aspects of the world, soI'd be very interested to read more stories set in this world!
Was this review helpful?
This is a good fantasy adventure, but overall that is just it - good. The story is just too massive, and overall there is so little room in one book for the author to finish it - and it overwhelms its reader in the meantime. There is a lot of info-dumping, and it honestly made my head spin.
Was this review helpful?
I feel so lame and ridiculous for DNF'ing a novella at 80%... but alas, I just can't bring myself to read any more of this story. The scope of this story is MASSIVE and there isn't nearly enough time for Elliott to execute it. Don't get me wrong... I read novellas fairly often and I understand that fleshing out every aspect of a plot or characters isn't entirely necessary. However, because of how dense this world and its mechanics are, I feel like the novella approach was the wrong way to go.

I am still very interested in checking out Elliott's other work. I loved the writing style, and if I am not mistaken, dragons are in her area of expertise. It's just a bummer that this didn't work for me.
Was this review helpful?
What a great read!  Servant Mage is a stand-alone book but I'm going to be super disappointed if it stays that way.  I also was sad when it ended - it was shorter than I wanted (a bit more than 160 pages.)

For those who care about the details (of the writing, not the plot since I don't do spoilers or waste your time re-explaining the publisher's blurb about the book,) the worldbuilding and character establishment are excellent, so much so that Servant Mage just begs to be either book (novella?) one or a prequel. The magic system is both detailed and consistent.  Fellian is not some over-privileged person, royalty, or in charge in any way at the beginning of this story.  I loved that the conflict put in her way was well written and not just some token hill to climb. You will too.

Thank you Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for sending me this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoy a good fantasy story but am always reluctant to start a new series, as many fantasy books tend to be long and sweeping and epic. And that's fine, don't get me wrong... but sometimes I want something that *feels* epic but can be read in one sitting. This is it! Servant Mage is a wonderful novella that is a quick read with an epic feel. The characters are vibrant, the adventure is high, the world building is detailed, and the writing is sharp. I really enjoyed this and look forward to more from Kate Elliott.
Was this review helpful?
From my Booklist review:

In this novella by fantasy veteran Elliott, mages are those with elemental spirits bound to their bodies, and the use of magic has been severely restricted after a Liberationist government overthrew the dragon monarchy. When her parents were executed for sedition, fire mage Fellian was sent into indentured servitude. She's been taught that a demon rests in her bones, and only virtuous obedience will keep her safe from its corruption. Though she resists in small ways, it isn't until she's whisked away from her post by a group of Monarchist sympathizers that she sees a real chance for escape. The rebel group needs Fellian's magic to rescue a party of people trapped in the mines, and she seizes the opportunity to bargain for passage home. As Fellian encounters wonders and terrors in the greater world, she also makes choices that will shape the rest of her life. Elliott uses a relatable main character and a complex and intriguing setting to dive into the consequences of revolution with an eye toward class and power dynamics; readers will be left wanting more.
Was this review helpful?
I love that so many fantasy novels come in series because you can really become immersed in another world. Although I think the premise of this story is pretty interesting, I didn’t get completely hooked into this story, so I’m definitely hoping that the books following this one in the series will bring more to the table.

Reading this story made it very clear that this was the first in a series. Although that’s not exactly a bad thing, it does make me wish I knew more about the main character as well as want to see how the plot progresses. Essentially I had a slight cloud of confusion while reading this story that I hope the future books will help clear up.
Was this review helpful?
There are certain authors where I will read whatever they write: no need to read the description or previews. That was the case for Servant Mage. I knew it was written by Kate Elliot, whom I love. I also knew that S.A. Chakraborty highly praised it, and really, those two facts were more than enough to sell me on reading it!

Fellian is what is known as a Lamplighter. It means she has the gift to create light magically. However, she lives in a society that turns people like her into little more than servants. Worse, if we're being brutally honest here.

Somehow, Fellian is about to get wrapped up in a political scheme, one that doesn't much care how she feels about either side of the rising war. Her skills are in need, and that means she is needed. But if she plays her cards right, she might just be free by the end of it. Assuming she doesn't end up dead.

“Honor never dies, even when traitors stab it in the back.”

In case it wasn't obvious, I went into Servant Mage with extremely high hopes. However, while I did enjoy the read, I didn't love it as much as I was hoping. Perhaps that is partially my fault, since I set such high standards for this book.

The other part of the problem is that much of Servant Mage felt rushed to me. I didn't get much of a chance to become attached to Fellian. By the time the novella ended I understood her and her motivations okay, but I would have loved a chance to get to know her (and her world) better before that point.

What I did see of the magical abilities in this novella fascinated me. I wish I could have seen more. Fellian is a lamplighter, which is actually a pretty cool name for an already cool ability. This specific gift is needed by a group of rebel Monarchists, and that was all she wrote.

On that note – I wanted to like the political side of things here. It had SO much potential. But again, much of that was grayed out where I was desperately hoping for more details. Still, it was enough for me to get a mostly solid impression of both sides. I was able to appreciate some of the ironic twists that followed too, so I really can't complain.

Long story short, Servant Mage is a fun and quick read. It didn't go as deep as I had expected or hoped, but otherwise I do appreciate what Kate Elliot did here. I'm looking forward to seeing what she writes next.
Was this review helpful?
A sweeping adventure in a novella bite-sized package with complex characters, heroisim, and lots of trope bending. A great read for fantasy lovers and readers who don't want to committ to a big series. Very well-written and enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
Kate Elliott is one of those authors whose books I've probably looked at over a dozen times over the years but for some reason just never actually checked out. So when I received an offer to review this book I figured it was about time to finally stop being lazy and check out one of her books. Servant Mage by Kate Elliott was an enjoyable read full of action, drama, and honestly a bit too much political intrigue for my liking. It's one of those books that I really enjoyed while I read it and was unable to put it down but once I had time to thing about it I had mixed feelings. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was how fleshed out the world and its characters are. I loved Fellian as a protagonist and one of the things that kept me from being able to put the back down was my need to know how her story ended. Kate Elliott does a fantastic job creating a believable world and populating it with characters you love or ones that you love to hate. Unfortunately, I found the magic system in this book to be a little boring and the politics of the world seemed convoluted and confusing. 

All in all, though, I think the good aspects of this book mostly outweigh the bad and I'll definitely be checking out the next book in the series when it releases. Servant Mage also convinced me to check out the author's Crown of Stars series and I'm already on the third book and absolutely loving it. So not only do I think most people would enjoy this book, I would also highly recommend the other books she has written. 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Not gonna lie, this was an interesting take and idea. But sadly it didn't end up becoming one of my favs. Still an enjoyable read and would recomend to anyone looking for a short novel with interesting world building and magic system.
Was this review helpful?
A strong start but lost some steam later. I’ve heard this is a stand-alone but I would hope that’s not true as it didn’t feel like that. Overall 3.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Servant Mage opens a new fantasy series by Kate Elliott, set in a land where reading and writing are forbidden to the unlicensed and commoners with magical talent are forced into indentured servitude. Our heroine, Fellian, is one such mage.

She's stolen from that servitude by rebel Monarchists (all with their own unique talents), who need a Lamplighter to help rescue their fellows from an underground mine complex. In return, she's promised her freedom, identity papers, and money.

A series of adventures follow, after which Fellian's asked to join the Monarchist movement, but chooses to follow her own road, and fight for what she believes in..
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for a review copy of this book. Sadly, it wasn't really for me. 

I had heard this was an epic fantasy in novella format, and that's pretty much what it is. We are following a fire mage in a world where mages, under the current government, are condemned to servitude. Our main character is chosen for a mission by the rebellion, though, and, on the way to that mission, we go on a whole other one that has much higher stakes. 

Kate Elliott seems to be known for her worldbuilding, and I can see why. This world managed to be pretty fleshed out in novella format. However, one of the problems I had was that I still did not know as much about the magic or the world like I wanted to. We start off with the main character, Fellian, teaching a man to write, which is forbidden, and that worldbuilding detail was completely dropped. Then, the magic does not make sense, at times. For example, some water mages can steal faces... how is that a water magic talent? I feel like I was missing a lot. 

Overall, I think the story is written pretty well, but it's not one I found interesting. I found Fellian and the side characters extremely annoying and forgettable. Finally, I kept their powers straight but that was about all that distinguished them. What Fellian wanted at any point of this novella felt really unclear to me. 

The plot needed to be contained, but because this is an epic fantasy, it also needed to have stakes. I think Servant Mage struck a good balance with that, but I just found the plot to be so incredibly boring. It was not only extremely meandering and side-questy, but also just... never captured my interest. The novella also seemed to go on a bit too long for my taste. 

Overall, I can see why someone would enjoy this, but it really wasn't for me. I think I need my novellas to be more personable or more small in scope to really sink into them.
Was this review helpful?
I chose this book because I loved the other books that I have read by this author.  The others that I read were 5 star books for me, which is rare.  Sadly, this book is a 2 star.  The characters and world building were very poorly developed and I could not connect with the book.  I gave up on it at 60%.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you so much for NetGalley, TOR, and Kate Elliot for the arc and unexpected story. 

The elemental magic system maybe too trope-y to most but it was pulled off in a different way (imbued in the bones and co-existing with the host). Most of the characters are understandably grim and off-putting given the way they are raised and challenged. The side characters are irksome--almost all of them not as differently-minded as the enemies they choose to upend. Fellian, the protagonist, is someone I would go to war with to be honest. She's straightforward and realistic. I empathised with her reactions and internal monologues. 

The part that didn't work for me was the landscape description of the world. Could be just me but they blur away into confusion.

#ServantMage #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

This was incredible.

This follows Fellian, an indentured servant who is freed to help the rebel Monarchists save their compatriots who have been trapped under ground. Since Fellian is a Lamplighter, which means she can create light, this is why she is needed as her gift is rare.

It is not only an adventure novella but a story about persevering and fighting for own self. By the synopsis one might think she has been "freed" but is it freedom when it was done for a reason, for wanting something in exchange?

I am happy to have read this since it shows me Kate Elliott is just my type of author. I've been in an annoying slump but Servant Mage had me hooked from page 1. My only complaint is that this is a novella. The magic system is so complex, I find it difficult to describe so I want more books in this universe. LONGER books, please Tor.

If you're a fantasy reader, look no further. Kate Elliott is a new to me author and a must read!
Was this review helpful?
I've read a couple of books by Kate Elliott now, and enjoyed them - she writes really solid, earnest fantasy, with likeable characters, lots of women, diversity, interesting magic systems. Her books (so far, anyway) are reliably entertaining and engaging. But for some reason, they just don't fill me with an urgent need to read the rest of her work? Maybe that's a failing on my part.

Anyway, this novella has all the good stuff mentioned above; I really liked Fellian as a protagonist, and also very much approve of the idea that both sides in the generic fantasy conflict here are basically villains. I hope she writes at least one full length novel in this setting.
Was this review helpful?
This was so much shorter than I was expecting! I loved the subject and I thought the characterization present in this book was really stellar for something that doesn't have a lot of bandwidth to move within--I think this book was less than 200 pages (It's a novella) ! Honestly, I was satisfied with this book but I don't have many thoughts about it. I won't say that I loved this book, but it wasn't bad. It was a bit typical, a bit predictable, but the world and the concept for the book was really awesome! I will definitely read more by this author. I hope there is more in this world to come!
Was this review helpful?