Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? To love books in a series and yet quit on the series two books in. Well, let me explain. (The following is MY OPINION. If you are the author, for heaven’s sake, click away now.)
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I picked up Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart on the recommendation of a friend. Great book, set in a future where magic has been discovered as a kind of new kind of science. Mages can interact with specially-designed spaceships to jump them lightyears through space, bypassing the need for hyperspace entirely. Magic works by sending energy through engraved runes, making it all work like a computer language or a circuit board.
The first book follows a space freighter and its captain who have been marked for death by space pirates. They pick up a young mage who can’t land a job owing to his lack of social connections. However, this mage, Damian Montgomery, has the ability to actually see the energy flow in magic runes. He hacks the ship and turns it into a giant magic amplifier, i.e. a freaking magic wand made for blowing up ships. This is hella-illegal. Now the pirates are after them, and the government is after them, and a Hand of the Mage-King is after them, too.
What made the first book great was the way the characters pulled together as a team. The captain protected his crew and especially his mage. His mage constantly pushed his own limits to save the captain and crew, driven by guilt that all this is his fault, anyway. Such a screaming good read.
Then I picked up book 2, The Hand of Mars. No more team. Damian is now Uber Leet Trained Mage who is solving massive planetary political problems all on his lonesome. The crew from the first book are off doing their own thing. Damian is kind of the underdog for a while, until suddenly he’s leading the rebels in retaking their planet from a corrupt governor. It was fun and suspenseful, but … I don’t know, without the team all pulling for each other, and Damian being both target and underdog, it felt more like a superhero book. Watch one guy save the day by being awesome.
Slightly disappointed, I checked out the next few books. Again, same thing. Damian single-handedly saving the day. No team. Cheap sex hookups that don’t last and don’t mean anything. No lasting relationships or character development.
Sadly, I decided not to read any more. I don’t have time to read the same book over and over. You can see the series ending coming miles away that Damian is going to wind up as the next Mage-King, so it’s not like it’s even any big surprise. The team dynamic is what sold me on the first book–the team constantly doing the right thing to save their people, and it biting them in the butt hardcore. If the series had continued with Damian still with his team, just facing bigger and badder threats, I’d have probably read every single book and clamored for more. But I don’t have the patience for a James Bond in Space kind of story. I know lots and lots of people love that kind of thing, and if that’s your thing, check out these books! But it’s just not for me. And I’m sad to say it, because that first book was amazing.