To all the epic fantasy fans out there looking for the next big publication that will take the genre by storm, I have found it! Dragon Mage is one of the best epic fantasy novel’s I have read in many years and I haven’t been this engaged and worried for the characters safety since I read Malice by John Gwynne. For those of you who are new to my reviews, John Gwynne is my favorite epic fantasy writer today and I have no quarrels at all about putting ML Spencer in that same category as John. Dragon Mage is a classical epic fantasy tale for a modern audience and I absolutely fell in love with the characters, the magic system, and yes the Dragons. Dragon Mage was originally intended to be a one-off standalone novel and the story is very much self contained to this one book, but it is confirmed that there will be a sequel in 2022! Guess what just sprinted to the top of my TBR for 2022 and I hope you all will give this book a try and appreciated it for the masterpiece it is. Dragon Mage put ML Spencer on my radar forever!
I need to talk about the history of the world we get to explore in Dragon Mage before I get into the amazing characters. The world was once riddled with magic and ancient creatures. In ancient times, evil sorcerers, known as archons were looking to destroy the world and absorb the magic, or essence, to gain ultimate power. The Champion Erok, in order to stop this threat sacrifices his own life to cause a sundering and to essentially split the world in half. This results in two realms being created: The World Above and The World Below with a layer in-between called the veil. The pure essence of the world has been largely confined to the World Below and this leads us to the starting point of the novel.
In order to avoid major spoilers for the book, I will only be talking about three characters that we meet very early in the story. In the World Above, at the northern fishing village of Anai, we are introduced to our two main characters of Aram and Marcus. Aram is a small boy who likes to keep himself busy by tying all different types of knots from rope and his only desire in life is to be working on a fishing boat. Aram is always picked on by the local boys because he has pale eyes and is shy when talking to girls. Aram has a gift however, he can see the aura of colors surrounding people which determines what kind of person they are.
Marcus is an older boy in Anai and the son of a sailor. Marcus sees how the other boys in the village treat Aram and decides to stick up for him and be his friend. When I fight breaks out between Aram and the local boys, Marcus comes to save him but it is discovered that Aram’s blood doesn’t flow red but brown. Aram is descended from an ancient race know as the Auld and he is what is called a true savant, meaning he can create his own essence and become a Dragon Champion. It is also discovered that Marcus is a true impervious and magic doesn’t affect him at all. He has the rare talent to become a Warden or a protector of Dragon Champion. Aram and Marcus are now being hunted by the Abadian Empire for their rare gifts. Aram and Marcus are two of the most likable characters you will come across in a fantasy novel and are now in my top 5 “bromances” of all time. You will love them every step of the way!
Sergan Parsigal is an Exilari sorcerer for the Empire and he is the one searching for Aram and Marcus. An Exilari has the ability to use magic like a Champion but can’t create there own essence like Aram can. When a rift is discovered in the world created by Aram, Sergan knows that only a true savant could have the power to accomplish such a task. Champions are hunted by the empire and their essence is extracted from them to feed the power of the Exilari sorcerers. Aram and Marcus are now on the run and the story will take you on a wild ride!
Let talk briefly about the magic system. The world exists with several different patterns connected to form the energy and physical objects we see in Dragon Mage. We later discover that these patterns are knots and the ability to create and break these knots is what makes a Dragon Champions abilities so rare. This also explains why Aram is so good at tying knots as he can see the patterns of the world and how to manipulate them. Aram will need to learn these skills quickly in order to survive.
ML Spencer introduces us to several amazing characters that you will grow to love as the story progresses. You feel the desire, fear, pain, and loyalties these characters have to each other and it just keeps building after every chapter. The writing style is very similar to John Gwynne in that the scene is being shown to you but each word packs an emotional punch and there are quiet a few of those in this book. Spencer is not one to be kind to the characters of Dragon Mage and I was saying to myself at certain point, “that was harsh even for George R.R Martin”. This starts off as a classical epic fantasy story and as the story progresses we see the more darker tones of the genre done at the highest level and with the upmost care. Do not expect a happy ending for every character you come across as I was very shocked and the big twists in this book.
For my closing remarks, I love this book! Dragon Mage has everything you could ever want in an epic fantasy novel from: great characters, cool magic system, war, interesting world, and Dragons. As of today, Dragon Mage is the front runner for my favorite book of 2021 and it isn’t close. I will not take up any more of your time but I want to leave you with two words, READ IT! You will be glad you did!