John Bierce's Mage Errant Series
A struggling protagonist gets dragged into adventure.
This review focuses on first volume. As of writing I’ve read all five released books and those flavour my opinion.
Hugh of Emblin is both a horrific and talented student at Skyhold Academy.
He is anxious, I’m pretty sure he is depressed, and ultimately he is just not vibing about the state of the world and his own abilities.
Luckily, he has some great friends to help pick him up and support him.
And even more luckily, Bierce manages to portray these issues in a relatable way without turning the main character into a whining, hard-to-read mess. I’m sure this was a difficult task, but Bierce pulls it off.
So, along with Hugh, we have his enigmatic mentor, the dream-fire-bone specialist Talia, and Sabae — an ‘untrainable’ student from a long line of storm mages. From our main cast of three, their paths are distinct, innovative, and play well together. On top of this, and something I appreciate greatly, is that all three grow not just in power, but as people. Hugh gets to work on his outlook, mental health, and anxiousness. Sebae and Talia don’t sit idle whilst the main character marches forwards either, they keep up.
Even one of the earlier antagonists, Rhodes, has some character development. That being said, Rhodes is my least liked part of the first book, because his bullying and antagonism comes out of nowhere and feels like a plot device to add conflict rather than a genuine and understandable reaction from a character.
Luckily, Rhodes plays an insignificant role in the continuing volumes, so if you don’t like that arc, don’t worry, keep reading, it’s not going to lurk around every corner!
The first book is relatively short, but this isn’t a bad thing. You get a great taste of Hugh and his friends before book two and beyond shed the shackles of Skyhold and venture out into the world. I don’t want to add spoilers about where they go or what happens, but suffice it to say that I love new places, new worldbuilding, new cultures, and Bierce doesn’t disappoint.
So go check out the books.