I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I loved Marysons earlier Meestermagiër (Mastermage) series when I read it years ago so I expected to at least really like this first book in the Onmagiër (Unmage) series. Maybe my expectations were too high. It’s not a bad book, but it didn’t touch me the way good books do. One of the reasons it took me so long to finish was because I just didn’t really care to know what would happen. It felt like Maryson was just going though the motions, insert spunky character there, wise leader there, battle hardened warrior over here. One of the problems might be that it was very clearly not the whole story. It’s a part of a series, but as a stand alone book it just doesn’t work. And my opinion is that if a book doesn’t have a good climax that resolves something, it’s not a full book and it shouldn’t pretend it is. Yes, one of the conflicts does get resolved in the last chapter, but it happens in a way that isn’t a surprise at all for the reader. And considering Maryson keeps his readers in the dark about a lot of things yet to come by having characters starting to discuss something and then ‘cutting away’ to a different scene (a technique I don’t really care for) the heavy foreshadowing for the last chapter is painfully obvious. The main conflict has only just started, and I’m not sure I want to read the other books and finish the actual story…
||One thing I do think Maryson does very well here, is give his world a sense of history. It’s important for the story, but it’s also just good world-building. He starts every chapter with a quote from characters we never meet in the story. It’s the historians of Romander that give us the context for the chapters. For the story he cuts back nine thousand years to a mage called Randoel who is planning for the future we see his other characters living in. Although some of these chapters suffer from the plot-dictated secrecy, thinking about this one guy trying to find ways to help people far in the future appeals to me. It makes me think about how to leave a mark on this world that makes a difference. Maryson is also good at describing the surrounding landscape and how that influences his characters or shows something about their personality. Which is why I chose to make the bookmark about solitary Randoel and where he chooses to do his thinking.
I used a mechanical pencil, Tim Holtz distress ink and tea (yes tea).
W.J. Maryson was the pseudonym of Wim Stolk, who died in march 2011. He was, to my knowledge, the only really successful Dutch fantasy-author (and he used an English sounding name to do it with). I remember reading the first Meestermagiër book and being so impressed with the use of language that I flipped to the information page in the beginning of the book to see who’d translated this so incredibly well. To my surprise the Dutch was so well written because it was written in Dutch. I’d never expected that because in my experience all fantasy-authors hailed from countries where English is the native language and because the name on the book was ‘W.J. Maryson’. I’ve always kind of wished it would have said ‘Wim Stolk’.