Review: Exiled, JR Wagner

Exiled, JR WagnerTitle: Exiled (Goodreads)

Author:  J.R. Wagner (@JRWagner2)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

James has known magic since just after he was born. As a sorcerer, his skills are exceptional yet when he wakes in The Never, his abilities are gone. Armed with nothing but determination and the will to survive, he braves a land wrought with dangers, mysteries and temptations meant to ensnare both body and mind and prevent escape forever.

Bent on finding a way back, James must brave a place reserved for the worst of his kind. He quickly learns that the land itself poses a greater threat than its inhabitants and if he is to have any chance of returning, he must work with the very people he’s been raised to fear.

Details

Series: The Never Chronicles #1
Genre: Fantasy
Published: Live Oak Book Company, June 5, 2012
My Copy: Digital ARC from Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository  Barnes & Noble
Not currently available as an e-book.

Review

James is a young man living in a Harry-Potter-esque hidden magical society in England in the late nineteenth century. He is accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit and banished to The Never, an alternate reality where his sorcery no longer works.

There were things I really liked about this story – both The Never and the areas visited on Earth are described in beautiful detail.

The story alternates between a chapter telling of James’ adventures in The Never, then a flashback chapter to James’ parents learning of his abilities and trying to keep him away from evil sorcerers and such when he was a young boy. The flashback chapters also aren’t told in order, so I had to flick back to check dates quite a few times – something that isn’t so easy with a digital copy. The jumping around in time confused me and I didn’t think it added any benefit other than a bit of back story. The other odd thing with the chapter jumping was that sometimes time seemed to pass in the “main” story while the flashbacks were occurring – one moment James is just finding his feet in The Never and the next, a year has passed and he has good friends there.

In musical theory, there’s a term called “dynamic range” – the difference between how loud the loud parts are and how soft the soft parts are. I felt that Exiled had a rather low dynamic range – there’s sort of a middle level of excitement through the whole story. The story starts with James being banished with an exciting flourish and his adventures in The Never are moderately exciting, but the ending didn’t build up to much of a climax. The story wasn’t boring, it just wasn’t all that brilliant.

James is the only character in the story who is described in much detail, apart from his skeptical and rather unpleasant mother. The other characters sound like their stories would be interesting, but we don’t get to hear anything about them.

I liked the premise and the worlds created in Exiled and I thought the characters were interesting, but the execution of the story was disjointed. Hopefully things smooth out when the next in the series is released.

Warnings: None, it’s squeaky clean.