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Book One: Paranoid Mage

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Callum had seen things all his life.  There are monsters and beasts living among people, but he learned very early not to admit such things, not if he didn’t want people to think him crazy.

It turns out that the supernatural is real, but at thirty Callum has no desire to be part of that secret.  Not that he has a choice when it turns out he is a mage, albeit one that hasn’t cast any spells in all his life.  There are requirements, duties, and education that the powers that be insist he be subject to.

To hell with that.

Book Two: Renegade Mage

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After escaping from the Guild of Arcane Regulation and the Bureau of Secret Enforcement, Callum has lost his greatest protection: his obscurity.  Now the powers that be know who he is, and hiding is harder than ever.  Nor is hiding a plan, just a reaction.

Now Callum is forced to decide how he wants to approach the supernatural world, and how he’s going to keep himself secure when the apparatus of government is arrayed against him.  Even if he wanted to live as a mage, that bridge has been thoroughly burned, and even if he wanted to live as a normal person, he is far too deep to close his eyes to what he’s seen.

He has to make his own terms.

Book Three: Heretic Mage

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Callum is at war with the Guild of Arcane Regulation, the organization that governs mages on Earth.  He’s spent most of his time lying low and hiding out, trying to understand what he can do and how he can remain free from their meddling.  What he’s learned is that he can’t.

It’s time to move from reaction to action, and take on GAR and its evils directly.

Book Four: Reclusive Mage

The Guild of Arcane Regulation has fractured, and new forces move on the board.  Callum cannot quite declare victory, for even a weakened GAR still forces him to hide from the world at large, yet he is no longer prepared to run. Instead he builds his own strengths to stand against those who wish to do him harm.

Change, once started, is hard to stop.  Callum’s actions have brought change to the world of the supernatural, but that can bring chaos and destruction even as he eliminates tyranny and corruption.  He has to move beyond being one man against the world, and stand in the world he’s made.


Paranoid Mage is an urban fantasy but it goes rather sideways from the normal stuff fairly quickly. 

Chapters are Fridays, 5PM EST, with approximately 5,000 words per chapter.

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Table of Contents
78 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 - Revelation ago
Chapter 2 - Reality ago
Chapter 3 - Escape ago
Chapter 4 – Learning ago
Chapter 5 – Trouble ago
Chapter 6 – Violence ago
Chapter 7 – Consequences ago
Chapter 8 – Tension ago
Chapter 9 – Reaction ago
Chapter 10 - Frustration ago
Chapter 11 – Offer ago
Chapter 12 – Preparation ago
Chapter 13 – Execution ago
Chapter 14 – Payment ago
Chapter 15 – Refinement ago
Chapter 16 – Advancement ago
Chapter 17 – Introspection ago
Chapter 18 – Surgery ago
Chapter 19 - Mistakes ago
Chapter 20 – Defiance ago
Chapter 1 – Hiking ago
Chapter 2 – Hunting ago
Chapter 3 – Destinations ago
Chapter 4 – Portals ago
Chapter 5 – Dragonblooded ago
Chapter 6 – Night Lands ago
Chapter 7 – Pursuit ago
Chapter 8 – Recovery ago
Chapter 9 – Inquiries ago
Chapter 10 – Target ago
Chapter 11 – Reconnaissance ago
Chapter 12 – Jailbreak ago
Chapter 13 – Involvement ago
Chapter 14 – Bunkering ago
Audiobook Released! ago
Chapter 15 – Grievances ago
Chapter 16 – Groundwork ago
Chapter 17 – Blame ago
Chapter 18 – Ramifications ago
Chapter 19 – Recriminations ago
Chapter 20 – Heretic ago
Chapter 21 – Rescue ago
Chapter 1– Gayle ago
Chapter 2 – Mictlān ago
Chapter 3 – Unwind ago
Chapter 4 – Work ago
Chapter 5 – Fulcrum ago
Chapter 6 – Christmas ago
Chapter 7 – Fane ago
Chapter 8 – Infiltration ago
Chapter 9 – Assassination ago
Chapter 10 - Cracks ago
Chapter 11 – Vacation ago
Chapter 12 – Evidence ago
Chapter 13 – Compromised ago
Book 3 available on Amazon ago
Chapter 14 – Annoyances ago
Chapter 15 – Favor ago
Chapter 16 – Foreshocks ago
Chapter 17 – Hammer ago
Chapter 18 – Fracture ago
Not a chapter - Webfiction panel ago
Chapter 1 – Moving ago
Not a chapter - Book Three Audiobook available! ago
Chapter 2 – Déjà vu ago
Chapter 3 – Reassess ago
Chapter 4 – Time ago
Chapter 5 – Threats ago
Chapter 6 – Direction ago
Chapter 7 – Steps ago
Chapter 8 – Lies ago
Chapter 9 – Misdirection ago
Chapter 10 – Reap ago
Chapter 11 – Beginnings ago
Not A Chapter - Webtoon Announcement. ago
Chapter 12 – Follow-through ago
Chapter 13 – Trap ago
Chapter 14 – Goals ago

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Eritis sicut Diabolus
Overall

Was expecting a "defy the heavens" sort of MC when I read the description. Oh no, this is so much better.

With a little bit of luck, a healthy amount of paranoia, and an american amount of distrust for the government, this MC is an absolute champ so far.

I read the entirety of the first book and I give it a thumbs up. The MC isn't perfect, which is good, and nobody holds an idiot ball to drive the plot forward, which is double plus good.*

*This applies to book 1. It seems an idiot ball is later introduced. Things just always seem to fall into place, everything seems to go MC's way. I'm still enjoying the story, but it's no longer gripping.

Selkie
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Is it paranoia if they're really out to get you?

Reviewed at: Chapter 2 – Hunting

Paranoid Mage!

For reference, I got an advanced reader copy, and I've read all of book 1. This review is based off of that.

 

Paranoid mage is the story of Callum Wells, who gets thrust into the world of magic.

At 30. 

Said world of magic is autocratic to the extreme, and Callum wants no part of it. The world of magic wants a part of Callum though, and will stop at nothing to get him. 

When you're paranoid and suspicious of the whole world, when you refuse to extend any trust, how can you get trust extended back?

Overall score - 5 stars.

 

Style - 5/5 The story is a page-turning thriller, and after a *slightly slow* start - and by that I mean the first few paragraphs - it picks up quickly. I found myself unable to put the book down, ignoring my own responsibilities as I needed to know what happened next. At the same time, the book doesn't rely on gimmicks or cheap cliffhangers to keep me interested and engaged - it's pure, solid, strong writing all the way through.

 

Grammar - 5/5. Perfect from what I saw. The author uses an editor, and it shows! The author also takes extensive time to perfect their craft and story, and it's gone through multiple iterations. The only strange wordings I found were entirely deliberate, and meant what they said.

Story - 5/5. Engaging, gripping, everything I want. The character's means and motives are clearly spelled out, along with others motives and desires. The story flows naturally, with no cheap gimmicks, special coincidences, or deux ex saving the day. 

Character Score - 5/5. Callum's personality is well-defined, and he sticks to it brilliantly. His slightly warped view of the world is consistent and persistent, and the character is smart and capable without being a Gary-Sue, a tricky balance to pull off! 

 

It's the rare novel that's a perfect 25/25 stars, but Paranoid Mage certinaly makes the cut, being one of the best books I've read in the last year. Give it a try! I know I can't hype it enough.

W-R
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Starts off strong, drops off precipitously

Reviewed at: Chapter 17 – Blame

TL;DR : I would read the first book, and maybe the second if you are fine with skipping or wading through exposition en masse - as it is, I will be stopping here - a shame, since I do like the plot.

Book one of Paranoid Mage was an interesting premise executed rather well. Though the changes in setting felt abrupt on occasion, it fit within the general narrative well and with the personalities of the characters. 

This is why I give the story a high-ish story score and character score - if not fully empathetic, the characters and circumstances are interesting and plausible. The romance implications are a little obvious, but this is forgivable. Some possible plot-hooks are not fully explored (due to the shifting location of the main character), but this is justifiable on the main character being paranoid. It ought to be noted that characterisation is sometimes inconsistent - main character's level of suspicion against others varies.

Grammar is mostly good - every now and then the author skips a word in a sentence or misspells a word, but it is of minimal import.

Style really hurts this book, especially in book 2. As soon as the main character begins to explore magic, the story becomes wrapped in reams of exposition. This exposition is not particularly interesting, but dry theory which has nearlly no relevence to the plot, and did not entirelly make sense to me.

Kelva
Overall

Start draws you in but it ends up disappointing

Reviewed at: Chapter 11 – Vacation

Book 1 is decent - good, even. The MC - Callum's motivations are understandable and his actions logical for the most part. Arguably he could've stayed around for longer in the beginning to understand the regime he was about to upset, but getting out when the opportunity presented itself makes sense too. He lives up to the title with his paranoia, but puts himself in danger to help others when called on later.

Things start going downhill in Book 2; from characters to plot holes and deus ex machina left and right. Callum goes from a paranoid mage who wants to be left alone to powertripping vigilante hitman with a (in my opinion) messed up moral compass. No self-doubt or introspection occurs anymore. The lack of competency from the magic society stresses suspension of disbelief. The MC's objective changes from hiding from the system to fighting against the system.

Book 3 is just terrible. Lucy's character completely devolves into a cliche romantic partner, their dialogue and flirting is... ugh. Callum gains power while the competency of his opposition plummets further. This is not helped by the (Chinese) villains becoming racial stereotypes from the 80's who collectively act with the intelligence of a rock.

Also FWIW the author has... 'interesting' opinions, which do bleed into the story a bit, especially in the Fane (Chinese) arc and Lucy's later characterization in book 3. This includes the narrative voice, not just Callum's PoV.

DavidRader
Overall

It started off pretty fun. Watching the MC fumble around with magic, wondering how the magic and the world really work. Here's the thing, however: Things were only fun and interesting when they were being hinted at. The more that gets revealed, the less interesting it all is. It also became more and more apparant that the MC is basically a self-insert Qanon doomsday prepper's fantasy. The longer it went, the more cringy elements revealed themselves. Every time someone says "Alpha" I picture all the werewolves as wearing fur-suits. The only available woman falls in love with him literally the first time they meet, etc. The plot is pretty much just a series of events contrived to show how awesome the MC is, while pretending that isn't the case. It's weird because I genuinely enjoyed it in the beginning, but now I'm irrationally angry at the time I spent on this story. 

GayOnTillMorning
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Promising start let down by poor characterization

Reviewed at: Chapter 2 – Déjà vu

I really strongly liked the beginning of this webnovel. Unfortunately, it's only gotten worse as things go on. I don't normally leave negative reviews but because of the sharp heel turn this story takes I feel it's important to talk about.

Story:

Paranoid Mage follows Callum Wells, a rogue agent who begins hiding from the mage government in a genuinely compelling first volume where he hides away in a small town unknowingly occupied by shapeshifters, and is forced to set aside his own personal safety in order to protect them. It's a great first chunk! Unfortunately, from there the story becomes uhhhhh... less compelling. The following volumes are effectively rinse repeat "X person/group is killing people, and therefore I will brutally murder them and destroy the government they represent" (story is STRONGLY libertarian vibes which may be some people's cup of tea but is not so much mine). At no point does this normal human man who was a white collar worker three months ago grapple with the moral tension of slaughtering dozens of people. They are ontologically evil and therefore fair game. There's actually really interesting tension of how do you deal with a society of obligate parasites if you wanna explore that! It would be fascinating! But nope, killing is bad except when good ole Callum Wells does it in which case it's A-OK.

Grammar: Great, well written, one of the most readable stories on this website.

Character: this is where things really go out of whack. I've already mentioned the uhhh insane murder happy protagonist, but what really bugs me are the women in this book. The main characters love interest exists literally only in relation to him. She is introduced as a point of contact for him, falls for him over the phone, is kidnapped as a means against him, he murders a bunch of people to rescue her, they settle down into a nice traditional relationship where she kisses him on the cheek and says "Go on 'big man', you go get him" when he goes on his murdering sprees and goes back to her only hobby, helping him with technology to do murder better. Not only does this book not pass the Bechdel test, I don't think two women ever speak AT ALL, let alone having it not be about a man. Every single female character in the novel is roughly as one dimensional, and that one dimension is exactly and only their relationship to Callum. Mind you, this isn't just true of the women, it's just most egregious with them.

 

Again, just a very disappointing turn for what seemed so promising at first. :(

Gheldan
Overall

Starting out strong and then got slowly lackluster

Reviewed at: Chapter 11 – Vacation

So like I said this starts out strong. The first book is pretty great but as time goes on and the curtain is pulled back on more of the setting less and less of it is well done.

MC is super special because he has basic engineering knowledge and apparently everyone in the magic world is too dumb or stubborn to learn from normal humans? 

Also the cartoons are incompetent mustache twirlers who generally tend to be the worst possible stereotyped version of themselves. 

Lucy has an incredibly strange personality, not unbelievable per say but just very odd and a lot of the time you are scratching your head wondering why she and the MC like each other.

So yeah 3 stars. It is just slowly getting worse as time goes on.

buenoexcellente
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Paranoid Mage is good popcorn reading. There are some good fights, interesting ways that the MC can munchkin his abilities, and some nice character moments.

What drags it down from excellent to popcorn is the lack of characterization and the antagonists carrying idiot balls. The idiot balls are so bad that it wrecks the otherwise excellent worldbuilding InadvisablyCompelled has put together.

I know it's not a particularly original setting. It's a thinly reskinned World of Darkness but you can tell that InadvisablyCompelled has put a good bit of thought into how the different factions fit together. Where things fall apart is in the Mage faction. They have somehow created a conformist dystopia where they simultaneously have exceptional levels of social control and a the same time they are so dumb they haven't figured out that guns + portals are a pretty good strategy.

The reason for this becomes obvious later. The whole Mage faction is a stand-in for the US Government/Academia/Blue Tribe. The MC is a stand-in for righteous "Good guys with guns" AKA Red Tribe and the whole story is a badly disguised Red Tribe vs Blue Tribe narrative.  Once I realized that it was pretty hard to enjoy the rest of the story. 

Overall it's something I'd have enjoyed at 20. At 49 it feels forced. 

Keifru
Overall

Delightful reversal of Urban Fantasy

Reviewed at: Chapter 4 – Learning

Usually, in an Urban Fantasy, when the main character's inflection point is 'there's a whole other hidden world' becomes a journey of wonder and exploration.

This one instead asks- why are they hiding, what are they hiding, and how are the power structures organized. The answers aren't rainbows and unicorn farts (atleast, as far as I've read no unicorns have appeared and farted). So what is a person to do but delete facebook, delete gym, delete lawyer, and figure out how to survive without getting force-conscripted among entrenched powers disdainful of the mundane at best.

Absolutely delightful, and I can't wait to read more.

lenkite
Overall

Hey "Big Man" - The Pro-bono Saint Assassin

Reviewed at: Chapter 14 – Annoyances

Started off well in Book-1, you know, when he was really a [Paranoid Mage] and has some rational thinking. By the end of Book-3 he is a [Pro Bono Saint Assassin] slaughtering folks left and right and owning supernatural lords favours for the kindness of killing their enemies and making them more powerful.

You might shake your head and ask: Are You Joking ? No I am not - god's word - that is indeed the MC.  It is freaking un-believable - he becomes an [Anime Caricature] and you keep shaking your head. He actually owes favours to folks who asked him to get rid of their problems in the towns that they rule. Dude this guy is bugging me and is Evil - Kill him and you will owe me a big favour!

He is always short on cash and resources but cant be bothered to charge for his assassination services or even properly loot his kills because thats thieving! Instead he is grateful for the opportunity to eliminate folks and will owe favours to those who point the way!

Hell, even his one scheme to get treasure by his personal portal skills was taxed 50% by his assassin employer - who btw gets his assassination services free-of-cost now!

I was hitting my head against the wall.

Also, be prepared for the words "Big Man" repeated over and over again till your eyes bleed and your teeth flaked to nibs. The MC's crush calls him by this moniker instead of his name like all the time. Every 2nd sentence addressed to him has "Big Man" in it.

This was fine when it was for covert work and the occassional phone call to her but after her damsel rescue she uses it ALL THE TIME in conversation in Book-3. Several hundred times in the story! (yes, I did a count). It has utterly no relevance now but the author maddeningly chooses to use it.

It was both extremely grating and nauseating.

There is a MASSIVE drop in story, magic and world-building quality from Book-1 to Book-3. The villains - the targets of the [Pro Bono Saint Assassin] are cartoons and even described by the MC as moustache twirling cartoons. Its not good enough for them to be just Evil, you know ?