|A well written book about a klepto wannabe mage and her reluctant guardian mage.|
The Quick and Dirty
+Well written. Detailed descriptions, good pacing, and dialogue that flows and feels natural.
+Multi-layered, flawed, and sympathetic characters.
+Well thought out magic system with uniqueness to it.
+There is legitimate excitement to be found whenever magic is used. There's such a build up for it thanks to our magic starved protagonist and we get a detailed description of how it works usually making the unreal seem real.
+Magic isn't just some limitless ability. It requires resources, focus, and skill. Liara's learning is tempered with great realism.
+Wiseman's subtlety and understanding of human nature made Liara a complex and interesting character to read about, despite her frustrating tirades. Very good stuff.
+Takes place in the real world.
-It takes a while for the plot to get moving
-Towards the middle and end Liara's self importance and poor decision making really make many of her chapters detestable to read despite the great writing.
-Nagarath's apologetic nature and unwillingness to put Liara in her place also tended to grate on my nerves because it was repeated so often. I wish he stood up to the foolhardy Liara more. Same can be said of Father Phenlick.
Bookminder, by M.K. Wiseman, is a clever book to read for fans of complex and unique magic systems. As a matter of fact, the whole book is dripping with this sort of magick from start to finish. It's two protagonists are mages, from Liara the wannabe to Nagarath the master mage. One of the coolest aspects about this book is that it takes place in the real world, some time in the past. Great references are even made to historical events, fairy tales, and even that famous wizard Merlin.
The book is also very well written. I had no problems slipping into the Croatian locales of Dvigrad, Parentino, and Vrsar. All the dialogue between the characters felt natural and nothing of note took me out of the story. I mostly enjoyed the multi-layered and flawed characters such as Father Phenlick, Nagarath, and even the impetuous Liara (though she frustrated me to no end). I felt great sympathy for them as they tried to succeed in their various goals and lamented past mistakes as we all do. Their flaws, failures, and desires to fix them resonated deeply with me.
One of the cooler and funner aspects about the book is its magick system, which is based in real life lore. I had fun learning about some of the origins of the magick here as well as the rules to its use such as the Laws of Magick Creatio and Transferre. Very unique stuff that also happened to have a huge impact on the story. With the way that the magick was explained and implemented, there was excitement each time that it was used. There was a weight and consequences to using this world's magick. Magick isn't just some limitless resource in Bookminder. It requires resources all its own, great focus, and great skill. I thought Liara's learning of it had a nice grounded realism to it, which I always enjoy when I read fantasy. I like touches of reality that add consequences and weight to the story.
I loved this book in every possible way except for one. The only thing that annoyed me about the book at many turns was Liara's own selfishness and the way that the other characters seemed to get wrapped up in trying to help her but be made the villain by her and their own guilt-ridden consciences. It wasn't pleasant to read, I must admit. I hate seeing brats get their way and this happened more often than not. But...it was handled very well at the end of the day. One scene comes to mind as Liara makes horrible decision after horrible decision and comes to lament past mistakes about trust right as she is making the exact same mistake. She can't see that she is making a series of the worst mistakes in her life even while continuously making them because she is young, foolish, and way too wrapped up in her current existential crisis. That's good writing in my book (ugh, no pun intended).
Though this portrayal makes the characters involved unlikable at many turns in the story, it is also true to character and true to circumstances. The circumstances that each of the characters find themselves in along with the reasons they are connected to Liara properly setup their motivations. Though annoyed with Liara's self importance and stubbornness and the other character's lack of willingness to simply tell her to shut up, by the end I found her to be someone that I could root for.
The overall plot was not really anything too special, but it was a nice setup to motivate these characters and see them in action. The ending mostly wraps up everything, but leaves some possibilities open for a sequel. I'm not sure if one is planned or not but I would certainly get read it as I found Bookminder to be highly enjoyable.
Purchase at Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Bookminder-M-K-Wiseman-ebook/dp/B0198HKWSU