This is book four of the Mageborn saga. My review for book one can be found here. My review for book two can be found here. My review of book three can be found here.
Spoiler Free Summary: In The God-Stone War, which takes place seven years after book three, things are looking up for Mordecai. He’s moving forward with plans to unite kingdoms. His dear friend and uncle is king. His children are grown strong. But when a visitor from a neighboring kingdom comes by, things fall apart quickly. Penny, his wife, has a visit from her future self: “If you want any of your children to survive…” What will he do when he learns failure is the guaranteed death of his entire family? When the threat of angry gods comes down, what will he do against it when his powers are then taken from him?
Character: Penny stole the show again for me here, but Mordecai is the driving force behind the saga and this story. Manning does a great job showing his struggles and emotions without bashing readers over the head with it. The cast of characters here really does a nice job. I’ll talk a bit more about this book (obviously), but these characters are what kept me in the story and turning the pages.
Exposition: Normally a point of strength for Manning, I have to admit the exposition in this book, particularly in the beginning, is super heave on exposition. I found myself grinding through a ton of world building and history. Part of this, I feel, was to cover the seven-year gap between books, but it slowed the book down. Once the book gets running, Mort and his cast once again takes center stage and shine.
Worldbuilding: One thing I love about this series is the world always expands. Each novel opens up new paths for the story to go. Also, while the exposition made this book a little harder to get through, THIS is the book I’d been waiting for. This book gave me the connections to the Embers of Illeniel that I’d been looking for. The end of this book is a particular pleasant surprise. I will say, I feel I noticed some continuity issues, but they’re not so egregious that I fell it hurt what is a beautifully orchestrated saga thus far. (NOTE: It’s not like I went back and verified one thing from another. I read for enjoyment, and I’ve never read a book looking for “continuity” violations. I simply noticed some things that didn’t jive right for me. If anyone else has read all the books and feels inclined to comment, please feel free to do so.)
Dialogue: The dialogue here is not only solid, but a charming part of one of the twists in the book. I enjoyed it. I like how Manning uses this to push the plot and develop characters.
Description: This was also an essential part of this book. This book relies on this element of storytelling, which isn’t my personal bag, but fans of vivid description are going to enjoy this book. I’m unlike most readers and authors in this regard. I tend to like a little less description. Manning usually has a lighter mix, which I like, but what’s important to note is the description in this book is more than usual for him, but not more than usual for most authors.
Overall: This book was simultaneously what I’d been waiting for and not what I wanted. The last book in this era of the saga brings it all back, but the heavy-handed exposition and more detailed description seemed to take away from what should have been the best book in the series. However, if you skip this book, you’d be making a tragic mistake. The plot twist at the end of this book is brilliant. That, combined with the woven threads of the earlier era of the saga establish this book as a great part of the whole story.
Thanks for reading