Review by Booklist Review
In this novella by fantasy veteran Elliott, mages are those with elemental spirits bound to their bodies, and the use of magic has been severely restricted after a Liberationist government overthrew the dragon monarchy. When her parents were executed for sedition, fire mage Fellian was sent into indentured servitude. She's been taught that a demon rests in her bones, and only virtuous obedience will keep her safe from its corruption. Though she resists in small ways, it isn't until she's whisked away from her post by a group of Monarchist sympathizers that she sees a real chance for escape. The rebel group needs Fellian's magic to rescue a party of people trapped in the mines, and she seizes the opportunity to bargain for passage home. As Fellian encounters wonders and terrors in the greater world, she also makes choices that will shape the rest of her life. Elliott uses a relatable main character and a complex and intriguing setting to dive into the consequences of revolution with an eye toward class and power dynamics; readers will be left wanting more.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Elliott (Unconquerable Sun) spins a spirited tale of elemental magic and conspiracies in this fast-paced, bite-sized fantasy. In a world ruled by the Liberationist Council, which deems all mages a lesser people fit only to serve, servant mage Fellian is forced into indentured servitude as a Lamplighter. One morning, a group of rebel mages in disguise offer Fellian a deal: she can continue in her current position or risk the council's wrath and join them on a Monarchist mission to save a dragon-born child, a rare mage with the abilities of all the elements. Hoping to find her way back to her childhood home, Fellian goes with the rebels. Their quest is fast-paced, all-encompassing, and violent, with shocking moments--including a graphic infanticide--showing the brutality of this world and its inhabitants' desperate fight for power. In limited space, Elliott builds a refreshingly complex world with a magic system not linked to familial lineage and with realistically thorny politics, as neither the Liberationists nor the Monarchists are depicted as infallibly good for the people. Fans of epic fantasy will enjoy this feast of magical characters navigating a gritty, morally gray world. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Jan.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
This richly conceived novella from the author of Unconquerable Sun, an LJ starred title, begins when Fellian, an enslaved fire mage, is kidnapped, or rescued, depending on the perspective, from her government's enforced servitude by a group of rebels. They want her to help them protect the life of a newborn baby who has the potential to overthrow their oppressors and save the kingdom. The opening sounds like many fantasies about chosen ones saving the day, but as readers see this world through Fellian's eyes the story becomes an exploration of power and privilege and the way that the high and mighty on both sides ignore how the costs of their squabbles and rebellions fall on the masses. Fellian, the daughter of farmers who rebelled against both sides, is willing to save the baby but refuses to be swept away by cause or rhetoric, to the surprise of the nobles who believe they're saving her when she's really saving them. VERDICT The depth of the character creation and worldbuilding makes this story seem almost too big to be contained in a novella. Recommended for readers looking for stories that center on characters that get things done and know the worth of doing so.--Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Duluth, GA
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