The debut novel by L.A. Lewins
Once upon a time, there was an apprentice, a brigand and a lost journal. It seems the beginning of a joke for nerds, but it actually covers the very core of The Mage’s Journal, Lewins’s debut novel.
Seren is a 19 years old boy who has just finished magical high school and is waiting for a letter from the Megacastle Academy of Advanced Magic, like many Earth kids his age would wait for an acceptance letter from college. And just like any other Earth kid his age, he is unfortunately rejected. Sorry darling, you are not good enough for us. Try again next year. It’s a hard blow for Seren. But Mr Merryman, a local shop keeper who has known him forever, offers him a job in his bookshop. While sorting out some second-hand and returned books, Seren comes across the personal journal of James Berryton, who’s been captured after gradually losing his powers, leaving his journal behind. Inside it, there’s a magic formula for a potion that no one has ever come across, its use and effects unknown. Prompted by Berryton’s words on the journal, Seren sets out to find the missing mage.
Laurentis is Seren’s friend and school mate. Having run away from home a few years earlier, she is part of a brigand company led by Archimon, a powerful old man who’s acting as chief. Archimon tasks Laurentis with preparing a poisonous potion. As she succeeds, she is given increasingly difficult tasks, that she accomplishes the best way she can. What she doesn’t know is that her powers are coasting black magic, which use is forbidden. Archimon, who knows it perfectly well, pushes the girl to learn how to use and control them. While she struggles with this decision, she convinces herself that it might not be such a bad thing: if black magic is part of what she is, why should she reject it?
In the meantime, Seren has teamed up with Marcus, a friend of James, who is looking for the captive mage too. It takes them a while to find out where James is being held – in Archimon’s citadel – and come up with a plan to free him. The reasons why Archimon is doing all this are still a mystery, as it’s the reason why James was starting to lose his powers before vanishing. It will all become clear in the end, also thanks to Laurentis’s help, in an ending that brilliantly paves the way for Book Two.
The story itself is pleasant: good action-driven plot, nice mix of characters, good potential for future developments. However, the way it is delivered could be improved: the narration is inconsistent and slightly confusing, with some chapters abruptly ending in the middle of an action, different sets of characters suddenly appearing out of nowhere without giving the reader any cues (the conventional three asterisks in the middle of a page to signpost a change of scene would really help ). This results in quite a lot of confusion, making the story challenging to follow. On occasion, the choice of language is poor or not completely appropriate. Too often the magic rule ‘show, don’t tell’ is discarded in favour of a narration that deprives of excitement what could otherwise be a brilliant story. This is an absolute shame, and we are sure a more careful editing could make this book great and let its potential shine as bright as it deserves.
The first two books of the trilogy are available to purchase at: https://amzn.to/3Pqa9D1
About L.A. Lewins
L.A. began writing during her University Christmas holidays one year, bringing the first of her fantasy worlds to life. She has since been writing at every available opportunity and made the decision to self-publish in December 2019.
Aside from writing, L.A. Lewins is a former archaeologist with a love of ancient history, although her first love will always be dinosaurs! An avid fossil collector, she makes the three-hour drive down to Dorset to look for fossils when she has a spare day. Her bookshelf is full of Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, and Alien and Predator novels, as well as an extensive history collection, spanning Ancient Egypt to World War II. Her other interests include drawing, gaming, tending the fern garden (had to be prehistoric plants) and walking her dog. The cat doesn’t much like walks!