Title & Author: The Mage and the Freckled Frog, Craig A. Price Jr.
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, May 30, 2015
Book Description: “A young mage is stranded in a strange village when his master leaves him. All that he has with him is his friend Freckles, his pet toad. He wanders the city looking for work or a way out, but discovers that magic is banned, and goes on the run. When a threat enters the city, he must decide whether to continue hiding, or help save the people.”
First Line: Drezzyk Ry’lnak fled the alleys, his long, auburn hair fluttering in the breeze, stumbling when he bumped into peasant after peasant.
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
At just 1900 words, this was a fun slice of fiction. I happen to love short stories and am ecstatic that the indie world has reinvigorated this form of writing.
Drezzyk is a likable character, if not a touch bumbling. For those unfamiliar, a mage is a person with magic that needs no staff to wield his power (unlike wizards). Drezzyk is a mage-in-training. He’s got the seed of magic in him but it hasn’t quite blossomed yet. There’s a nice character arc for him. He starts out fearful but eventually learns the value of courage.
The core story is a good one but events seemed to happen without any hints dropped along the way. Drezzyk is dumped in a town he doesn’t know by his master. Who is this master? How long had Drezzyk been training with him? Did they not get along? He sees a palace in the distance but doesn’t recognize it. Why not? Usually palaces house the monarchy. How many palaces are in this country/kingdom? Is he from another land? Similarly, when the main antagonists arrive on scene, they show up suddenly with no mention of them beforehand as a threat in this world.
Without any preamble to things, I never felt grounded in the story. Obviously surprise is a great tool in storytelling but it requires finesse so the reader doesn’t feel like they’re driving the wrong way down the highway.
The Magical: Loved the magic in the story and how it was wielded. This was like a mage’s coming-of-age tale.
The Mundane: While it’s important not to stuff too much backstory into a scene, it’s equally important to still sprinkle some in here and there, or hint at it, so the reader feels like they know the character. The absence of backstory disconnected me from Drezzyk. Where is he from? Why does he want to be a mage? I wanted to know!
Summary of Thoughts: Currently it’s $0.99 for the Kindle. I liked this one, though I had a lot of basic questions about the world and the main character that were left unanswered. It has a light charm that I enjoyed but it needs more world building to satisfy. Short stories are in ways harder to write than novels because it has to do the work of a novel in less time. A few adjustments to add an extra layer of detail and this one could be really magical (lame pun intended).
Many thanks to author Craig A. Price Jr. for providing a copy of the book to review.
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