Lieutenant Oscar Britton has just had his magical ability awaken. Unfortunately his magic is in a prohibited school meaning he is going to be sentenced to death. Naturally, he runs. After he is caught, however, he learns that he will not be put to death, provided he follows the rules and doesn't try to run again. Instead he's been recruited to a secret base in the home of magic, called The Source. Here he must learn to control his magic while trying to figure out just whose side he's on.
I've been a fan of Military Sci-Fi for a while now so I figured I'd give Military Fantasy a try. This, maybe wasn't the best book for the transition.
The world this takes place in is amazing. It's very easy to get into the swing of things, figure out the way things are, etc. Even the magical world of The Source was very well thought out and intriguing. The indigenous people, nicknamed Goblins, have entire histories and mannerisms that I would love to learn more about. The clear and blatant racism that the Goblins have to deal with daily was heart-wrenching.
Then there was the classism between those who agreed to use their magic to serve their country and the Selfers, people who refused to take the oath. Selfers were treated like dangerous criminals even after they'd learned to control their magic. They were not allowed to go home, by all accounts they were dead. Their only choice was to either be treated like a prisoner and watch propaganda videos or take the oath to serve those who had put them into this situation because of reasons beyond their control. No one can control if or when their magic will manifest, nor in what way it will manifest. But, if you show signs of magic, you're drafted, one way or another.
And these situations provide wonderful ethical debates about freedom and treatment of prisoners of wars and more!
The problem I have with this book is the characters. I repeatedly called Britton an idiot. And yes, he did most of his stupid things for good reasons (he didn't want to die, he didn't want his friend to die) but I still felt like he deserved every hit he took. And he takes a lot of hits. At the end of the book a lot of people are dead because of him. Whether they were the good guys or not, that doesn't justify their deaths, nor how they died. He, himself, points out a few times what his biggest flaw is, his pride. If he could've learned to just shut up once in a while, he might have been an okay main character.
The other characters in this book are rather one dimensional, their motivations defining who they are and what they do. Even the bad guys, on every side, are very straight forward. Almost comically so. Britton's motivations keep flip-flopping so it made it even more difficult to like him. Therese and Marty were the only characters that I actually care about what happened to them.
In the end, though, I have to give this book 3 hoots. At no point did I feel like I needed to stop reading it and, when all was said and done, I have to say I am tempted to buy the next book. It has a different main character and the author had more experience under his belt when he wrote it. If it goes on sale, I'll buy it. In the meantime, this first book of the series gets 3 hoots!