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Book One: Paranoid Mage
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
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
The combination of the cover and the title of "paranoid" for this story gave me a little of a slight horror eldritch urban fantasy vibe, but thus far with two chapters and looking at the ge re tags as well I thinkI would tags it the most with Action, UrbanFantasy, Dystopia, and of course Magic.
The three strongest parts of the story so far I would say is the main character, the setting and worldbuilding, and the premise of the plot which is how the previous two elements collide with one another so far. The setting can be guessed at from the story description above with a hidden magical world which is introduced fully to the protagonist in the usual crual and life disrupting manner as I tend to see in most Urban Fantasy stories. The factions of the magical world even at the second chapter is poised to ensnare the protagonist into their own systemic designs (passively as a systemic thing rather than the protagonist being truly individually targeted thus far, but it might get more personal later on).
The conflict comes in the form of what the protagonist is like. They are the paranoid mage introduced to the magical world not at all early in life and they are fully capable of nopeing out of there very literally like a criminal escaping the law. Through the lens of the protagonist magical society is reframed as even more oppressive than someone with a different personality would perceive it as and through their perception questionable aspects and things about how the magical world's society seems to work are pointed out as suspect so that you might start with having a few red flags about what is happening but through the eye of the protagonist the red flags are all multiplied. And these red flags are also larger because of the paranoid nature of the protagonist taking something that might not be absolutely as bad as it could be and turning it into unaceptable risks and things that might lead toeven more bad things happening with even less warning.
Basically we're going into this story looking at the threats present in the world according to the idea of a slippery slope. An avoid getting entangled into these schemes at all cost type of mindset. For this reason the protagonist is the type of character that is going to go so hard in the other direction than conceivably he ends up facing even larger risks in the more short term in the effort of hoping to get away from the more subtle systemic risks of just living passively in an oppressive dystopian society (influenced by a paranoid perspective).
It's a recipe for confrontation. A character and a setting made to dispise one another. I look forward to where the next few chapters take us eagerly.
Edit: chapter 3 and I can subjectively add being hilarious to the good points of the story so far.
Reading Paranoid Mage reminds me of the X-Files tv show. Not the alien stuff but rather the government conspiracy behind everything.
Mc strives to keep a low profile in life; but god makes fools of men, and mc's plans went down the drain. I really like the fact that he's an intelligent person who acts his age (30) and makes smart decisions with his life instead of allowing others to lead him by the nose.
The writing has a good pace and appears error free from what I've read so far. As of chapter 4, mc finds himself in an interesting environment, and I can't wait to find out what the author has in store for him next.
More happened in the first 4 chapters than most novels on this site get into in the first 20. Enjoyable to read and if it keeps at this pace, we may actually get to read something with an ending soon enough. Has alot of potential and the world is interesting.
"The Paranoid Mage" follows a mundane who is dropped into the hidden magic behind our mundane existence. We join him as he tries to forge his own path while struggling to understand the rules and power's that govern his new life.
This book is starting strongly and I cant wait for the rest from this addictive author.
While the ocasional confusion makes me pause and wonder.. 'what?' Nine times out of ten, i've been sucked into the story. An average man, a tad paranoid, but reasonably so with what's he's seen only to be forced into the magical world against his will again and again.. It's a gripping story.
While I won't get into all the details, the first few chapters I've read so far have caught me and have me waiting for the next chapter. I simply can't wait and hope others find the same pleasure in this.
TL;DR: For a paranoid mage the MC spends a terrible amount of time getting himself into conflicts which are the exact opposite of paranoid.
(trying not to spoil to much but there may be soft spoils ahead)
There is a lot to complain about in regard to the story and how it is developing the MC. For most of the story he is on the run, which is compelling in the beginning but I guess can only take me so far. He reveils himself to "friendlies" without knowing their nature constantly. He also knows enemies are enemies with no hostile action being determined on his part. (Some are clear, while others are just very questionable close) Friendlies treat him a bit like a Mary Sue. They themselves have every reason to be extremely paranoid of him in many regards, yet treat him like he is the most friendly murder-hobo you can imagine. Very annoying for the readers. A lot of the drama develops from both the MC and the reader not knowing the rules of the world. Yet our MC knows whos what somehow with little to no interaction or knowledge before hand. Probably the author not realizing they need to explain/develop things a bit better. MC is spends most of his chapters figuring out his magic. Little time is spent trying to figure out what he is actually up against. So the readers are left constantly guessing what the heck is going on and when something happens what will happen next. It takes a good writer to pull mystery off well... Generally readers should be clued in a bit more even if the MC is not. (Thats called suspense folks!) Thus action usually comes from outside the MC's control or knowledge. The MC never choses to engage first rather the situation is often thrust upon him. Later chapters desend into a complete murder hobo diary; with character development progessing on how easily our mage kills things. Most of the story fails to develop a motive for our MC other than running, and repeatedly killing for morals. Not all of it seems justified well, none of it is self defense, and often reassures himself that it is to protect society. Eventhough self admittedly killing the few people he does will not stop the crazy amount of bloodshed in the world. If anything the killing only tangentally adds to the suffering the increased insecurity of his life. Needless to say the number of enemies he has created in the story is massive due to his complete disregard to any selfish survival instincts. Best I can figure his paranoidness extends only to his ability to teleport away and thus everything related to that. Alternate story titles for this should be "Portal Purge", "Telemancer", "Displace-me-gic" and "Who knew I could teleport among other deliquent things?" Nothing truely paranoid about it.
For me this story started slow but fully grabbed my interest by ch 5. (I know, only chapter 1 is out on RR but patreon is a thing too.) The story sets up then subverts a lot of expectations from the urban fantasy genera, in a good way. The gramer and spelling is good. The world building is slow but the broad strokes are in place by ch 3-4. A masquerade mostly viewed from the outside. The magic is interesting, given enough description so the reader feels more informed after the character learns something but not so much that I feel like I'm reading an unpublished game / LitRPG.