Book Review: A College of Magics
By Caroline Stevermer
Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. To keep me out of the way, more like it!
But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenlaw students major in . . . magic.
But it’s not all fun and games. When Faris makes an enemy of classmate Menary of Aravill, life could get downright . . . deadly.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Faris Nallaneen, duchess of Galazon, has been packed away to finishing school at Greenlaw College by her usurping uncle Brinker. Greenlaw is unusual in that magic is a mandatory part of the curriculum; unlike Latin and deportment, its practice is forbidden to students, but a graduate is entitled to be called a scholar of Greenlaw to her face and a witch of Greenlaw behind her back. Faris vacillates between periods of immersing herself in her studies and ignoring her schoolwork in favor of trashy three-volume novels. (A College of Magics is, of course, a three-volume novel.)
The pacing of the book while Faris is at Greenlaw is episodic; she spends two years at school until a whirlwind of events culminates in her rushing off to save the world, accompanied by her best friend, the excruciatingly English Jane Brailsford. Along the way, they attempt to rescue Galazon from the clutches of her wicked uncle while becoming embroiled in the messy politics of the neighboring kingdom of Aravill.
Faris’s Europe in 1909 is not very different from our own, except for the existence of magic and a few extra independent duchies in Eastern Europe. They have motorcars, pistols, railroads, and bombs. It’s a wonderful antidote to the current trend of generic medievaloid fantasy. This book may not appeal to those who like constant swordfighting, car chases, and general mayhem, but it will delight readers who enjoy unfailingly clever dialogue. (Courtesy of Epiphyte Book Review)
Adult Point of View
I did not catch on that this novel was set in the early 1900’s until they suddenly had a car. I had thought it was set in a later time, possibly the Regency Era, because of the manners. So, if anyone else had the same confusion I would feel better and chalk it up to the author’s fault and not mine, however, for now I have to think I just wasn’t that observant.
I didn’t love A College of Magics. I liked many of the characters and the premise. I believe my problem was with the pacing and details. It moved from being very slow to very fast paced, almost frantic by the end. I am still wondering how did the rug from the library fit it? Did it relate to the maze, the rift, or nothing? Who knows since Stevermer didn’t happen to tell us after making it such a big deal.
I thought it odd, though novel, that Faris is attending a school of magic where there is no magic taught, at least not outwardly. She seemed to be in a rut at the school. Some of the conversations with Jane, Faris and the other friends got a little confusing because they were not linear, but rather more stream of conscious (possibly like teenage girls really talk without a lot of sense at times). Without magic I thought learning deportment was boring as did Faris.
In the next section of the novel, Faris is off and running to visit a magician in Paris and avoiding assassination. Yes, I did say assassination. She discovers she is the Warden of the North. Oh dear, she received no magical training while attending a school of magic.
In the last section of the novel Faris must uncover the plots of her uncle the neighboring king, her would be assassin and assume the duties of the warden while healing the rift that was created by her grandmother. Whew! That is a lot to do!
Faris saves the day, but does she get love? Well, sort of.
Book Review: A Scholar of Magics
Glasscastle University–on the surface, one of the most peaceful places in England. But underneath, its magic is ancient and dangerous…
American Samuel Lambert, sharpshooter, adventurer, late of the Wyoming plains and Kiowa Bob’s Wild West Show, has been invited to Glasscastle University in England to contribute his phenomenally accurate shooting eye to the top secret Agincourt Project. The only dangers he expects to face are British snobbery, heavy dinners, and tea with the Provost’s pretty wife. But when the Provost’s stylish sister, Jane Brailsford, comes to town, things get much more exciting….
This sparkling sequel to A College of Magics is a whirlwind of secret weapons, motor cars, mysterious assaults and abductions, thugs in bowler hats, and a mild-mannered don who is heir to a magical power greater than all of Glasscastle’s. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
A Scholar of Magics takes up with Jane Brailsford as the heroine and Samuel Lambert as the love interest. Faris is only mentioned through a scrying technique and isn’t really in the novel.
I actually like this one better than the first because the narrative was smooth and not so choppy. I liked the characters, Jane is chirpy, a bit droll and quite proper. Samuel, though he is usually called Lambert through the book, is the shy sharpshooting cowboy. Fell is the bumbling genius. Robert, Jane’s brother is officious and his wife, Amy, doting and eccentric.
I wish that Lambert wasn’t such a dolt at times. I would have liked to see a more even pairing in his relationship with Jane. I also would have liked him referred to as Samuel or even Mr. Lambert. Instead Stevermer refers to characters by their last name only which seems like a modern approach used in newspapers. It seemed out of character for the time period. I was also disappointed that they both recognize their love and then don’t have a satisfying conclusion, no kiss, no marriage, a big fat nothing! I haven’t decided if I will read the third novel in the series yet. So little time, so many books!