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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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BurritoPirate
Overall

Honestly you should give this one a go, it make me get patreon just to read all the chapters currently released! If you are a fan of someone with a tactical mind discovering the supernatural world and how he can operate within its bounds while still maintaining his own humanity then you should bloody give it a read.

maclit
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Solid so far, could go either way later

Reviewed at: Chapter 16 – Advancement

Context:  I am up to date on Patreon and look forward to how this story progresses.

Overall:  This one is a good mix of politics, action, progression, and satire rolled into one.  It blends modern urban with portal fantasy.  If you like a slightly more complex story line with decent character development, I recommend it.

Style:  The story is primarily from the MCs POV, with some shifts to explain the current situation or provide more details/background on the world.  Although I generally dislike POV swaps, this is well done so far.  I also appreciate a modern fantasy that does not limit itself to major cities.  The author has a world the reader recognizes to work with, and he makes excellent use of it. 

Grammar: The chapters are longer than normal and pretty well edited.  No real issues and above average quality for RR.

Story: This is set up as a modern world fantasy with some portal stuff thrown in.  The world is as we know it with the supernatural as a shadow world overlay on top of it.   The backstory of magic in the world is still developing but seems interesting.  There is a general theme of anti-authority and the stagnation caused by a combination of greed and bureaucracy that is ever present but not overwhelming to the point of distracting from the story.  If you dislike politics in your fantasy, this may be a deal breaker for some readers.

Character:  The MC has a strong rebel vibe that at times overwrites what most would consider his better judgement.  It is not entirely clear how far this mindset will go but think a toned down Carl from DCC.  I enjoy the fact that the MC must work for what he has and demonstrates a necessary drive to improve himself.  Some of the details of his training can be a bit tedious, but these sections are kept fairly short.  One of the weaker parts of this story are the side characters.  They come across as flat caricatures for the most part.  This feeds into what he is rebelling against, but is not sustainable if the story will continue to be as good as it is now.  I am curious which direction it will take. 

Belisarious
Overall

Guy forced to learn magic to survive. Love it.

Reviewed at: Chapter 5 – Trouble

Smart mc finnaly gets pulled into the magic world he has avoided for his entire life because he wanted to help. He then decides nah and skips town. To make sure he can survive he tries to learn as much about the world as he can also he can now do magic, so yea. 

Overal a good start. Keep up the good work.

Monadologist
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I'm a big fan of highly rational protagonists in general using their abilities in intelligent ways.

The protagonist here is a bit OP in the sense that he doesn't know what the normal limits and approaches for everything are, and gets a bit of a cheat in the form of his perception, but overall I'm very pleased with the actions he takes in the situations he finds himself.

If I have one critique it seems that the baseline magic user caste doesn't seem like one that has really given this sort of magic several hundred years worth of tweaking and refinement. Letting the bad guys have intelligent moments too and forcing the MC to adapt and think on the fly more would up the stakes.

If I have a second critique it seems our MC manages to stumble out of one Masquerade break situation into the next in rapid succession. Perhaps the author is going for a world where the absurd and fantastical is around every corner, but the magical population does seem to be something like 10x too dense for a believable Masquerade.

Grammar is solid. No errors stand out to me. Maybe a typo here and there.

MC is intelligent. If anything he isn't paranoid enough. By Chapter 5 not much of a recurring cast is built up, but by the time the Patreon chapters are incorporated there's a decent background cast starting to appear.

ShadoCat2
Overall

A very good start from an Author I enjoy

Reviewed at: Chapter 4 – Learning

Knowing the author, I will likely change the rating from 4.5 to 5 in the future.

The reason for the low score was the first chapter.  It's not badly written but getting dumped on by a corrupt system is a trigger for me.  Since I've read Blue and like the author, I figured that I needed to give the story a chance.  I'm glad I did.  He did not drag out the scumbaggary and moved to the MC dealing with it.  I have no doubt it will be back but as long as it doesn't become a focus of the story, I will continue to enjoy this story.

So far, I have liked most of the side characters.  They aren't all the MCs friends but they don't go out of their way to be scumbags either.  They seem like real people with their own concerns.  I've met people in small towns acting just like they do in the story (even if the one's I've met weren't werewolves).

Grumpygrump
Overall

A protagonist I don't hate

Reviewed at: Chapter 1 – Hiking

This is the first story I've read in a loong time that has a protagonist I can completely endorse. He's smart without being unethical, in fact has the kind of moral backbone that drives the plot forward in a way I'm absolutely thrilled with. And it doesn't descent into Lawful Stupid territory either, it dips its toes in there but in a way I like a lot.

The worldbuilding is mysterious without being unapproachable, creating a sense of curiousity about who the players are, what's happening behind the scenes, all done through a viewpoint that is very easy to empathize with. Heartily recommend. Currently reading Chapter 1 of the second book, and eagerly looking forward to more!

P.S. yes, I know I'm not living up to my username. I have plenty to be grumpy about elsewhere. In fact, I'm salty more stories aren't more like this one. Happy?

Lackies
Overall

Thus far I have found Callum evocative of characters like Dresden or Walter "Rorschach" Kovacs, and thats truly the highest praise I can offer. The novel is still early enough that I can't claim it delivers on its early promise, but as the review title says, "read the first 6 chapters" as a novella and you will know if you want more or not. This novel isn't for everyone and it definitely puts forth some views that not everyone will agree with, but it doesn't hide what it is.

I don't think the novel is perfect as I found some of the characterization on the side characters a little flat, and found Callum to have some minor inconsistencies as well, but I enjoyed what i read, and am very excited to read more, and thats worth 5 stars.

 

Onehand_Writer
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

A Gem Premise Polished to Excellency

Reviewed at: Chapter 5 – Trouble

Let's get boring stuff out of the way.

Grammar -- idc 5 stars, why do people care about grammar so much...

Style -- Fits the story 5 stars.

Greatness of this fic comes out of the premise that the Story and Main character form together. InadvisablyCompelled has taken the Urban Fantasy and Harry Potter dream of being invited into a secret society and subverted it in a magnificently!

We get to read about all the Urban Fantasy secret society stuff, get to learn magic with MC, and get to know a cast of great tweaks on traditional UF characters, but.

But!

We also get to enjoy a uniquely different MC who doesn't fit the mold of traditional UF character.

We get to enjoy a critical deconstruction of the secret society from the PoV of our paranoid Main Character.

We get powerful organizations that run the show AND a character driven story, without having the MC start out as OP or part of the politics.

We get to enjoy the layers of secret identities and the hidden badass crouching OP that our MC will eventually become.

We get to enjoy good old mundane man using modern skills to explore a really cool type of magic (Space Magic) with limited access to learning material, giving us a promise of awesome times where modern knowledge unlocks potentially never before seen applications of magic. And unlike in most fics where this is done poorly with MC being the only one with a brain-cell, here the setting already hints of a promise that it will be done tastefully.

 

This is just all in all a delightful story to get invested in. You can tell from the get go that the author has learned his craft during his previous work and brings to this show a lot more than surface level understanding of stories. He's taken his time to polish such a gem of a premise that it's guaranteed to unfold into something excellent.

If I have one thing to point out as a fault, it would be that MC's paranoia doesn't seem to apply to his day-to-day interactions as much as it could. Would've been interesting to see him struggle with it more. Also, side characters don't have the most unique voices, but really those are afterthoughts and did not affect my 5/5 enjoyment!

calebcup
Overall

Im only on chapter 6 but im in loooove with this. Callum's anxiety is both relatable and sometimes i take a break bc his anxiety makes my anxiety anxious. But! So far it is a beautiful mix of reality, fantasy, and the lone ranger vibes! So excited to read more

touchmike
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Interesting start quickly desolves into Delve 2.0

Reviewed at: Chapter 11 – Reconnaissance

This makes me think of Delve—interesting first book, followed by filler, useless conversations, worldbuilding not relevant to the story.  
  
Style and grammar are good. The style is very practical, it reads easily and you can follow what happens. It does get bogged down sometimes by worldbuilding ramblings. Grammar is top-notch, actually. I haven't noticed a single typo throughout two books.  
  
Plot is not good - pacing is waaay too slow. There are hints of worldbuilding, but they are either just that (shallow hints), or are never explored any further.  
  
The worldbuilding itself is tropey and uninspired. There are your typical creatures like fearies and vampires, they are cookie-cutter and not anything more than you're probably already imagining. There is a magical institution that is hard-handed and callous in keeping the normals from noticing anything, but this time everyone in a position in power is a power hungry idiot! There is nobility: mage families with too much power, arrogance and secrets, you've all seen it before. Of all these things, none show any deconstruction or creative ideas.  
  
Characters are not good. The main character has no personality. Characters are one-dimensional and all talk the same. The conversations between the main character and other are fine in the beginning of the story, because they are not very personal. However, they quickly become awkward and feel very unpersonal, exactly as characters get to know each other better and are supposed to talk like they are closer.

TL:DR: If I have to read 'big man' one more time, I'll probably just drop the story.