Book Reviews

Mageborn (Age of Dread #1) by Stephen Aryan Book Review

its ok Review

  • Mageborn (Age of Dread #1).
  • Stephen Aryan.
  • 432 pages.
  • Fantasy / Epic Fantasy.
  • My Rating: It’s OK Book Review.

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Book Blurb:

It’s been ten years since the battlemage war, where thousands died as mages sundered the earth and split the sky. 

Habreel believes eradicating magic is the only way to ensure a lasting peace. He will do anything to achieve his goal, even if it means murdering every child born with the ability. 

As deaths involving magic increase and the seat of magical learning – the Red Tower – falls under suspicion, two students and one lawbringer must do everything they can to combat Habreel and his followers, before magic disappears from the world for good.


Book Review:

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Mageborn is the first book in Stephen Aryan’s new epic fantasy trilogy Age of Dread set ten years after the conclusion of his previous trilogy Age of Darkness (I have to admit that I haven’t read the first trilogy).

The Red Tower has reopened and its aim is to train children to control their magic and become mages. Seekers roam the land testing children for magic but a plot by some to ban all magic is manifesting as sedition is spread, playing on people’s fear and prejudice of mages and magic due to the Warlock and the events of the Age of Darkness trilogy.

I feel the need to mention the lack of a map. I know, I know, I can hear some of you collectively groaning about such a small and trivial thing (it doesn’t impugn on my opinion of the book – which I enjoyed). However, it’s only my personal opinion but I like maps in fantasy books and would have liked to have seen one in Mageborn as it is the first book in the trilogy and. With various places and locations mentioned throughout it would have been nice to have had a map for reference purposes (yes, I’m one of the sad people who actually look at the map in a fantasy book).

The world building was decent enough and serviceable but I’d have liked to have seen Aryan delve deeper into certain areas and give us more history. Likewise, I felt the same with certain characters too and their lack of backstory. I do feel, however, that a large part of that feeling is due to me being a ‘new‘ reader to Aryan and his world and that ‘old‘ readers who are already acquainted with his work and have read his previous trilogy would recognise places and characters from the Age of Darkness trilogy.

I did think during the course of Mageborn that there were a couple of times where certain aspects of the story were glossed and skimmed over and I would have preferred further elaboration. Similarly, some events that transpired also appeared to escalate rather quickly. It’s not really a negative, more a musing on my part as I can see why Aryan did this to keep the plot focused and the pacing fast.

There’s a lot of PoV characters (Habreel and Akosh who have an uneasy alliance as they plot to eradicate magic. Munroe, a sorcerer. Munroe’s husband, Choss, a combat trainer at the Red Tower. Tammy, a Guardian of the Peace. Tianne and Wren, both students at the Red Tower. And, other sporadic PoV too) in Mageborn and we flit from location to location and character to character as the story moves forward. The story ARC’s are interesting and the characters themselves offering various different cultures (Wren is from a different culture to the other students in the Red Tower and seeing how she adapts is one of the standout aspects of the book) views and personalities are engaging.

My favourite main characters in Mageborn would have to be Akosh, Wren and Munroe. I also really liked Samara (Munroe’s mother) she’s only a minor character but I found her to be a great addition.

Admittedly, it did take a while for my interest to be piqued when reading Mageborn. There wasn’t that moment early on that pulled me into the story. It really was a tale of two halves as the first hundred pages of the book I was just ‘reading‘ to be reading and doing something. But then, somewhere along the way, it all seemed to ‘click‘ into place and I became invested in both the story that Aryan was telling and in the characters that he had created.

After finishing, I struggled to rate Mageborn. On my blog I rate with a ‘Hell No‘, ‘It’s OK‘ or a ‘Hell Yeah‘ rating. Mageborn definitely wasn’t a ‘Hell No‘ review but deciding between ‘It’s OK‘ and ‘Hell Yeah‘ proved rather tricky for me! Mageborn was a read that I enjoyed, there’s a lot to like within the pages and after the ending, well, I’m certainly intrigued to see where Aryan will take his characters and story next. But, as you can tell from my review, I also, unfortunately, had some issues with the book that tempered my enjoyment and I was also left with the feeling that overall I just wanted ‘more‘ from my time spent with Mageborn. In the end, I decided to go with an ‘It’s OK‘ rating for Mageborn which is my equivalent in stars of a 3 or 3.5 out of 5. It was a higher end ‘It’s OK‘ so I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 or 7 out of 10 which I feel to be fair.

Whilst Mageborn failed to hit the heights of books in my favourite fantasy trilogies I still found it to be a decent read and start to a new trilogy by Aryan. In short, Mageborn is a worthwhile read for fans of epic fantasy.


Purchase Mageborn (Age of Dread #1).

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26 thoughts on “Mageborn (Age of Dread #1) by Stephen Aryan Book Review

    1. Ha, fair point about stars though I’d have still struggled on what to rate the book if I did use stars.😂

      I think the author seemed to think that we’d all read his previous trilogy and glossed over locations, characters and events that happened. Oh well, we can’t love every book and the one I reviewed the day before (A Plague of Giants) was an absolutely fantastic read so it can’t be helped this one was only OK.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for the review Drew! Mageborn sounds like an interesting read. It kind of reminds me of a cross between Harry Potter and Divergent. Definitely an interesting story.

    -Luna 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh noooooes.. no map for Drew! 😦 It’s a funny thing with the map- I don’t really care for them, but it’s probably because I tend to look at them once and then forget where something is and then I find it too much trouble going back to it for reference 😀

    Great review!!! There ain’t anyone that can blame you for wanting more backstory or details… I would have probably felt the same. But hey, you still enjoyed it 🙂

    You know… I’ve seen you use the word ‘flit’ in two reviews now and the great thing is? I have now found a word I dislike 😀 hahaha, you know, like some people hate the word ‘moits’? I don’t.. moist rolls off the tongue nicely but ‘flit’.. man, it sounds so hairy! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like maps in books and I admit it.😂 I’m not entirely sure why being honest, often I look at them at the beginning and then don’t bother again unless I want to know where somewhere is or I have a recollection of place A being over one side of the map and place B being way over the other side and yet the characters got their in a page and I want to check it out. But it doesn’t happen often, it’s just something that I notice when it isn’t there though if that makes sense. I might not need it or look at it but damn, I remember there isn’t a map, oh well, we all have our own foibles.😂

      I did enjoy but yeah, backstory and details would have been nice as it seemed that the author took it for granted that everyone would have read the previous trilogy. Can’t love them all though and I ended up enjoying it which is the main thing.

      Ha, moist is awesome, it’s a word like c#nt that makes people cringe!😂 Flit sounds hairy?? Fair enough, flit to me sounds like clit!😂😂😂

      Like

  3. I do like to have maps in fantasy to be honest, cos sometimes I get a little lost- and sometimes I really just like it (can’t say how long I spent poring over the LOTR maps as a kid for instance). This sounds a bit lacklustre, so I can see why you had trouble rating it. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I like to reference where places are if I can’t remember. Or! Some characters are in place A which is over one side of the map and get to place B over the other side, 1,000+ miles in a matter of paragraphs and I think ‘wait a minute’ and like to check locations.😂

      Yeah, it was definitely a bit lacklustre, there’s been so many awesome fantasy books recently that this one just didn’t live up to the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review it sounds interesting. By the way, I only ever look at a map once before ever starting a book and then at the end when I’ve finished the whole novel. I keep forgetting there are maps in some books, lol 😛 !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was interesting but no where near as good as the book I’d reviewed the day before and definitely not top level fantasy for me but still decent.

      I don’t look at maps much but I like the reference in case I want to check something. It’s just something that I pick-up on, it’s fantasy, it’s a made-up world, I think there should be a map of the world.😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantasy is SUCH a tricky genre. I mean, the writers have TO REALLY pay attention to the minutest details! And A MAPP!! I MEAN HOW THE FUCK ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DISTINGUISH YOUR WORLD FROM SOME OTHER sTORY’S IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A FUCKING MAP???! 😭😭 I mean this can’t only be me!! I tend to confuse worlds if I donot have a definite boundary in front of my eyes and a map provides just that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! I don’t pay much attention really to the map but I sure as hell know when one isn’t included even if I don’t go back and look at it! 🙂 I do like them for reference though especially as I occasionally get confused where the different areas are or when I have a moment where I think ‘wait a minute, those characters were hundreds of miles away, how have they got there so quick!’ and want to check on the map to see if I was right.

      I just like them in books, especially the first in a trilogy/series, it’s a made-up world, I need to see where the places are! 🙂

      Like

  6. Great review, man. Do you think you’ll be visiting his original trilogy after this? I’m also curious about your issue with the missing map. I do like seeing a map in my fantasy books too, but I barely ever return to it while reading. How do you personally use them? I find it hard to imagine myself stopping while reading to flip back to the first page to check the map and whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll probably continue on with this series but I highly doubt I’ll bother to go back and read the first.

      I don’t use maps often, I look at them at the start before I start reading and then only rarely bother with them. But yeah, that’s exactly what I do, stop reading and turn to look at the map at the front if I want reference on where somewhere is or think ‘hey, wasn’t that way over there and yet the characters have magically got there in half a page’.

      Being honest it’s just something that I notice in fantasy books even if I don’t bother with the map while reading and some books it’s fine but this one had lots of locations and areas and I think it would have benefited from a map at the beginning.

      Liked by 1 person

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