Last night, after a marathon reading session, I finally finished By Honor Betray’d, aka the final novel in the Mageworlds trilogy. When I finished the last page, I broke into a grin. A few moments later, when I was able to form a coherent sentence, I thought, “Wow. This is what it feels like to be completely satisfied by the end of a series. I’d almost forgotten what that was like.” My second thought was “everyone needs to go read these books right now.”
If you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ve heard me discuss this series before, but here’s the genesis of my obsession. Several months ago, Dunc from Club Jade mentioned her theory that one of her favorite space opera series started out as Star Wars fanfic. I, being the curious one, asked her the name of the series. She very enthusiastically replied “Mageworlds”, provided a helpful link, and ordered me to go read them now. I bought the first novel, The Price of the Stars (Which is still listed as $2.99 for ebook! Go buy it before it changes!), but didn’t finish it for several weeks as I got caught up reading other novels that I’d received from the library.
To be honest, at first it was difficult for me to get into the story. There wasn’t much exposition for the universe, and I felt like I’d been thrown into the middle of a fandom that I should already know but didn’t. About halfway though, however, everything changed as characters and plotlines came together, and I got hooked. Hooked, I tell you. Since then, I haven’t been able to put down the novels and have been encouraging everyone I know to read them.
So why should you read them? Like I said, they are some of the most satisfying novels I’ve ever read. They are epic, but not dark and depressing. I’ll be honest here: I’m probably the only person on the internet who is not excited about The Dark Knight Rises. Why? Because the Christopher Nolan Batman series is so dark and gloomy that it’s hard for me to find the movies entertaining. Are they good movies? Yes. Do they make me pump my fist and cheer like I did during The Avengers? No. This is not to say that stories can’t have dark elements and still be satisfying. That other novel I’ve encouraged everyone to read, The Season of Passage, is very dark. In spite of that, the novel is still enjoyable, because there are enough elements to lift your spirits. There are good moments to temper the bad. And that is exactly the case with Mageworlds, and I guarantee that by the end of the first trilogy, you will be completely satisfied and have very few unanswered questions. (About the trilogy itself, that is. I still want to read Beka’s parents’ story.)
It’s space opera, so the story is sprawling and epic by default. The novels take place in a fictional galaxy that is divided into the Republic and the Mageworlds. Those of you who read the Star Wars Expanded Universe will find familiar technology: datapads, hyperspace, comlinks, etc. The galaxy has its own “Force” called the currents of power, and the Adepts and Mages both use the power differently. The descriptions of both Owen Rosselin-Metadi and Llannat Hyfid using this power were utterly fascinating, and reminded me of why I loved Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. These are the kinds of things I want from my Force powers, not just bland video game descriptions.
I won’t spoil the plot except to explain how it all starts out, because you really don’t want to be spoiled for this series. In the first novel, free-spacer Beka Rosselin-Metadi is enlisted by her father, General Jos Metadi, to find out who ordered the assassination of her mother, the Domina Perada Rosselin. (The Domina is the hereditary ruler of the lost planet of Entibor.) Beka, having lived on her own since the age of seventeen, completely uninterested in one day inheriting her mother’s title, becomes captain of her father’s old ship, the Warhammer, and goes out into the galaxy in search of the assassins.
In addition to the compelling story and setting, the characters are some of the best I’ve ever read. Beka Rosselin-Metadi is a complex woman who kicks ass and takes names, but isn’t afraid to show vulnerability or her affection for her partner. She’s one of those female characters that light up the page, like Mara Jade or Katniss Everdeen. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about Nyls Jessan, the Space Force medic who gets drawn into the action somewhat against his will. But as I got to know Nyls, he became one of those characters you can’t help but fall in love with. He’s charming and funny, all while threatening someone with a blaster. The other characters all have interesting backgrounds, nobody is one-dimensional (not even the smarmy Tarveet from Pleyver), and I honestly had a hard time figuring out who to root for at the end.
The Mageworlds series starts out with a trilogy–The Price of the Stars, Starpilot’s Grave, and By Honor Betray’d. There are several other books that aren’t related to the trilogy, but I’ve been informed I have to read them nonetheless. (Not like I don’t want to. I’m really interested in learning more about Jos Metadi, Perada Rosselin, and the enigmatic Professor.) These novels truly have something for everyone–drama, action, romance, and humor.
So, in conclusion, you should go read these books right now. Right now! Beka Rosselin-Metadi demands it, and you do not want to make her angry.