Can you fall in love with a fictional character? If so I am in love with Aram and Markus and Calise and Vandra and Asgaroth and the Elesium and oh dear:
I think I am in love with the whole book!
But let’s get some order in all that love chaos:
- Author: ML Spencer
- Publisher: Stoneguard Publications
- Date of Publication: 8th January 2021
- Genre: Epic Fantasy
- Pages: 982
- ISBN-13 : 978-1951452049
Dragon Mage is the coming of age story of Aram and Marcus. We meet them pretty early in the childhood – Aram is 12 years old and Markus is 14 – when they’re still living in their tiny village called Anai. The two boys couldn’t be more different: Markus is big and strong and Aram, who will become the main protagonist of the book, is the weird kid of the village. Not only does he look different with his Opal coloured eyes but he also behaves weirdly and just doesn’t fit in. He doesn’t really like other people and doesn’t understand how they feel and what they want of him as he takes everything serious and doesn’t understand figurative speaking. Of course that difference makes him get bullied, laughed at and mistreated from an early age on. His father left his family in Aram‘s early childhood and the only person always supporting him is his mother, until the day Markus scares off Aram‘s bullies and picks him up out of the dirt. Since that their paths are interwoven, their lives are connected and Aram has finally found a friend. And he will need a friend with all the suffering that is to come…….
I bought this book for myself as a Christmas present and had it ordered to my parents. It is a really pretty book but it is also a very massive book. Due to that I left it at my parents to read in some holiday or other. But then I finished an exhausting period of correcting and thought I’d treat myself to a day of reading and got the book for my kindle. Well, I wanted rest and quiet reading. And what did I get? Sleepless nights (Do not worry dear reader. I got enough sleep to survive) . The book really gripped me straight from the start and I didn’t manage to put it down again. I am normally a slow reader with having a full time job and two small kids but I read Dragon Mage (982 pages) in three days. I guess this says a lot about how good this book is.
It took me a while to really fall for Aram but he held my sympathies straight from the start. Yes he is peculiar and not the typical hero but he is also so fragile and lovable. Probably ‚fragile‘ isn’t the right word as he is also very tough and resilient. For his friends (yes, there is a chance that there will be more than one) he’d do everything and defends them and the people he cares for with all his might.
Throughout the book Aram has to suffer a lot but never gives up, which shows his strength of spirit and character. So finally, in spite of all the obstacles, he grows – with the help of his friends- into a powerful young man. Despite all his innate power he always keeps his self-doubt and never gets cocky, arrogant or boastful but stays the great but fragile soul he has always been.
Markus isn’t any lesser a hero than Aram. Without him Aram would have been lost many times. Markus never forgets where his loyalty lies even if he is put to the test and has to suffer for it. He adapts quickly to new surroundings and is a really lovable character who always supports and looks after his friend. Markus and Aram are predestined to be friends and fate and their loyalty to each other binds them together. And this friendship is the world’s last defense against the malevolent forces spreading across the land.
Another review criticises that the heroes are portrayed as being too weak and sensitive and act too much in ways that women do. Honestly, who wants the 08/15 (ordinary) testosterone fuelled hero??? Haven’t we had enough of these stereotypical old-gender-fashioned-invincible-male-heroes? Aram and Markus are different but in a good way as -at least for me- it makes them very special and unique.
And if you want even stronger characters you have them in the book too: Asgaroth, Siroth and Vandra. Asgaroth and Siroth are dragons and Vandra is the army‘s wingleader. Especially Vandra really grew on me and she is a very strong female character. So if you are looking for a tough nut you can find it in Vandra. This doesn’t make her less likable and she is adored and respected by the other characters in the book.
As the reader can not be the only one who falls in love with Aram, there is also a love story in the book. This love story is also part of Aram’s character development and is a nice addition to the story, albite not its main focus.
The Dragons are wonderfully portrayed.
In regards to the dragons the book feels a bit like an adult version of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, which I also loved reading. But Dragon Mage is just way more grown up and also darker as there is torture and brutality in this book too. I would not call it overly brutal or dark as there is so much light and goodness in there too. The darkness makes the reader suffer with the heroes and keeps the tension and suspense at a very high level. The pace of the book is – despite its huge volume – fast and the reader is only allowed little islands of rest and tranquility.
I am not going further into detail about the world building and magic system as everyone has to discover that from themselves but just want to say that I enjoyed it immensely.
ML Spencer managed to write a captivating tale. I especially enjoyed her writing style as her language is as captivating as the story she weaves.
I can recommend reading this book with all my heart, even if you’re normally not a fantasy fan and despise chunky books as you will surely find something to love in this exceptional book.
The pictures were all made © 2020 by Wojtek Depczynski and ML Spencer was so kind as to allow me to publish those beautiful illustrations on my blog.
Further information on the author can be found here: