Heir to the Darkmage

Heir to the Darkmage

by Lisa Cassidy

3 out of 5

Ambition drives her. Danger thrills her. But magic always has a price.

Twenty years have passed since the Darkmage was destroyed and the war between mages ended. For Lira Astor, the single living heir to the Darkmage, escaping her name is impossible. People still fear what is long dead, and they see in her the rise of another dangerous mage with deadly ambition. Desperate to claw her way free of her grandfather’s shadow, to make her own name amongst the world of mages, Lira is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if that means joining the secretive rebel group looking to restore his vision.

Survival is a lesson Lira learned early and often, yet when she is abducted and held prisoner in a deadly game of cat and mouse, she finds herself facing a nemesis she may be no match for. Forced to band together with unlikely allies who challenge everything she believes about what it means to be a mage, she will have to rely on every bit of ruthlessness she possesses.

Because the war may only just be beginning…
…and Lira Astor intends to come out on top.

Lira can't escape from her grandfather's dangerous legacy, and she will have to keep her wits, to stop people from killing her or using her.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book in this series, but it is connected to the author's Mage Chronicles series. I think readers should read the earlier series first, as you would benefit from knowing the background.

The narrative is split between two points in Lira's life.
First, showing how she was orphaned and nearly died at a young age. It follows her life, as she chooses the streets over the orphanage, and meets Ahrin, who shows her that little girls can be ruthless too.

Secondly, it follows Lira about eighteen. She's in her third year as an mage apprentice at Temari Hall, and allied with the Underground (who want to continue her grandfather's work).
Her old survival instincts come in handy when she is kidnapped along with some other students. She finds herself in an abandoned estate, with monsters chasing them.

Young Lira's storyline has to be my favourite. She has such a hard time, being such a young kid, and small for her age. She's shunned by the people of her village; the orphanage; and others on the streets. All because of some guy that died before she was born.
I really felt sorry for her, and admired her stubborn will to go on, and still remain a good (if standoffish) person.
I thought it had some Six of Crows vibes, as Lira and some other kids on the streets work together, making their stand alongside the other gangs. I really liked the growing connection between Lira and Ahrin, and thought these two girls could achieve anything.

Older Lira... I struggled to connect to her storyline. This is a reasonably long book, and not much happens in over half of it, except they are running blindly from monsters and unknown enemies. It feels like there's a lot of supposing and hypothesising, and everything gets talked in circles; even the action scenes seem slow. I also lost count of the number of chapters that started with Lira waking up from being knocked out/shut in a dark cell etc. It all made her narrative quite repetitive.
I also felt that Older Lira's narrative relied more heavily on stuff that's happened in the previous series. Her grandfather - the Darkmage - comes off as some vague bad guy; and for a good part of the book, it was hard to get any sense of whether the rebel Shadowcouncil or Mage's Council were the "good" factor.

Overall, this was a tricky one to review. I really liked one half of the narrative, and I think I would have connected to the other half more, if I'd read the other series first.


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