For my Reading Challenge this month, I decided to read Battlemage by Taran Matharu. My chance to finally finish the trilogy which I had all three books sitting on for at least 6 months.
I feel very conflicted about this book for a couple of reasons. I enjoyed it, but there were some parts that I did not enjoy. It took me a little while to figure out what conflicted me about the story. Eventually, I settled on that if felt as if these were two books shoved into one. The first story where they are trapped in the ether and the second about going back to Raleighshire and the war with the orcs.
The first half of the novel is my favorite because it is an environment that hasn’t really been shown a lot. There is also a sense of urgency because they did not have enough supplies to help them breathe the air. The group was also weighed down with Fletcher’s incoherent mother for the whole of the trip.
There is a moment in the ether where they find the old church. There were all kinds of creatures statues, including fairies, angels, and more. It hadn’t been visited in a very long time and I think this shows that the ether used to be explored before. Maybe it was even inhabited by a small group of people.
Then Khan and his band begin to appear trying to find them on their journey through the Ether. Khan mad at Fletcher for a multitude of things, but first and for most was his precious salamander. It goes against everything the orcs had ever learned from their prophecy. Khan would be the one to win the war for them and Fletcher was in his way holding the one thing he needs, Ignatius.
He is thwarted by the fact that the turtle demon aptly named Sheldon is helping move them along. He is on the long journey to mate and they believed that he would be a great way to transport themselves across the ether and find a way out. I was pretty sad about his death as well.
There is so much that Fletcher does not know about his salamander demon. Khan mocks him for it because he has the knowledge that Fletcher does not. Yet, there is something changing in Ignatius that Fletcher cannot figure out. So the moment that Ignatius jumps into the lava and begins turning into a drake was amazing. Fletcher was not expecting a dragon at all.
They find their way out in a place where their story began, the Academy. Then this begins to kick off the second half of the novel that involves espionage and warfare. The group knows that the former king is terrible and that includes his Triumvirate. They need away to get some of those people out of their way.
The former king wants to start up the warfare with the dwarves, but that would not help their situation. So eventually, Fletcher offers the dwarves a place in Raleighshire. They make the journey with new recruits to guard the boarder and begin fixing up the town. There is a brief moment of looking into the village life before the war catches up to them.
Diedric being the terrible human he is and running from the fight after sabotaging the town’s carts. At least he finally got what was coming for him. The former King finally got his comeuppance as well as the tribunal. I had been waiting 3 novels for this to finally happen and it could have come sooner.
Some of the deaths just felt forced. It was as if the author was like, there is a war and people have to die, so who should I choose. Rory’s last second death felt like an add in and was pretty swept aside until they discovered him. Sir Caulder and Rottenham sacrificing themselves felt very unnecessary. The two of them were not going to be able to do much especially since Didric sabotaged the carts. I feel like Fletcher’s father wouldn’t have wanted them to sacrifice themselves, but be there for Fletcher.
The only death that I felt fit was Atilla. For the brief moment that you think it is Othello makes you lose your breath for a moment. In the end, we find out that it not Othello, but his brother Atilla. His demon also protected Fletcher as if Atilla had managed to impart something as he died. This lead to Fletcher wondering if the same thing happened with Athena.
Then we go from Raleighshire to the capital where Khan is making his attack with his own drake. Yet, it isn’t the one from the prophecy and he tries to kill Fletcher in order to take Ignatius from him. Somehow with some force of will they manage to defeat him and the war was won. There is kind of an afterthought moment that the former king had died and a few others as well.
The two second ending he gets with his aware mother. I wanted more. He spend part of the book with an incoherent mom and that is all he gets.
I would give this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t my favorite of the trilogy which I believe would be the first book, but I did still enjoy it. I cannot wait to read the prequel all about Arcturus.