The Innocent Mage
Kingmaker, Kingbreaker - Book 1
Enter the kingdom of Lur, where magic is wielded by few and others are imprisoned if they dare try.
The Doranen have ruled Lur with magic since they arrived centuries ago after fleeing Morg, the mage who started a war in their homeland. To keep their lands safe the Olken - Lur's original inhabitants - are forbidden to use magic. Any Olken who breaks the law will be executed.
Asher has come to Lur's capital city to make his fortune. He finds himself working in the royal stables and in time becomes a mediator between the Olken and the Doranen. Soon, he will have enough money to return home and set up his own fishing fleet.
But there is unrest among the Olken. It has been prophesied that the Innocent Mage will be born, and the Circle is dedicated to preserving the magic of the Olken until the saviour arrives. The Circle have been watching Gar, and as the city streets are filled with Olken rioters, his life takes a new turn...
Miller has plainly set out to write a story that readers of heroic fantasy will devour. She hasn't pushed any boundaries, but she's got the balance of familiarity and newness about right. And she's given hope to everyone out there with a hankering to read (or write) a fantasy epic of less than a gazillion volumes.
Most importantly, Kingmaker, Kingbreaker is fun.
-- From Ian McHugh, ‘The Internet Review of SF’
I’d forgotten the simple pleasures of a Big Fat Fantasy, and Kingmaker, Kingbreaker is definitely a superior example of the type. I think the reason it works so well is because the story is completely character-driven (rather than epic plot-driven with stock characters painted in later). The plot is there, of course, but lurks oh-so-subtly beneath the surface until it’s time to jump up and smack you between the eyes …
Kingmaker, Kingbreaker is a page-turning debut from a very promising writer - already Miller is breaking the conventions of Big Fat Fantasy and making the genre dance to her own tune. She takes traditional fantasy elements - magical races, prophecy, royalty, evil magicians/gods, a commoner becoming a magician - and twists them with her unique blend of humour and horror until they feel utterly real.
-- From Tansy Rayner Roberts, ‘AsiF’
Miller's complex leads and their relationships absolutely make [The Innocent Mage]. The characters are real. The issues that come up are some of the most original I have seen, and I enjoyed their interactions from start to finish. Miller impeccably intertwines fantasy elements with a breakthrough story about a young man, a prince, and their friends. "The Innocent Mage" is not only a book that every fantasy reader will enjoy, but will also cherish for years to come.
-- From Romantic Fantasy Reviews
[The Innocent Mage] has everything a good story should have, pace and solid story. I liked how Asher is so unknowing about the role he is to play in the Kingdom of Lur. In addition I liked that there is a really good bunch of well-written characters within this story. You know the heroes and you like them. The villains, though Karen Miller takes her time to show these characters, once they appear you know they are the villains because you instantly dislike them. Furthermore the ending, oh the ending, what a cliff-hanger, and the question if raises.
-- From Aukon SF site
Miller has given us a pacey page-turner with a well-constructed plot and convincing character development … The Innocent Mage is the first novel of a “duology” and I’m dying for the year to turn so I can read the sequel. Carry on Scribing, Karen Miller!
-- From Specusphere
Abounding with vivid characterisations and contemporary dilemmas, Miller adds a strong human touch that is lacking in many books of more standard fantasy fare, while marrying the tale to a forward-moving plot with a momentum that carries the reader into the small hours of the morning as they find themselves having to read ‘just one more chapter’.
-- From Galaxy bookshop
[In The Innocent Mage] Karen Miller has created a fantasy novel that doesn't fall for the old clichés. She uses them where necessary, twists them when she needs to, and all in the service of getting us inside the heads of a couple of very likeable characters... and a few likeably unlikeable ones too. Her characters face modern dilemmas in a traditional setting that make the book easy to relate to, and a joy to read.
-- From OzHorrorscope