Innocent Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker 1) by Karen Miller (Orbit) [Book Review]

This is the first in a series of duologies, this one follows the Innocent mage of legend and the second duology follows his son. I bought these as a gift for my son who loves fantasy; he gave them high praise so I had to read them too.

This is Karen Miller’s debut novel and my first read of her writing. She is an Australian writer

It has a common trope. Young man runs away from family trade to make it by himself and finds his magical powers and love, but it also has interesting differences.

The story takes place in the Kingdom of Lur whose original inhabitants the Olken lives as second class citizens and are forbidden magic, in fact they are believed to be without it. Six centuries ago the Doranen came through the mountains fleeing the evil mage Morg. Their leader, Barl wove a magical protection over the Kingdom that has kept Morg at bay since and the Doranen with their magic form the upper class and their King provides the weather magic that powers the wards.

There is a secret society among the Olken that still practice earth magic and they have an ancient prophecy about the Final Days and the Innocent Mage that can save them from Morg. One of their members the young seeress Dathne will come and play a major part in Asher’s life and for the prophecy. She is an interesting conflicted character.

Asher the protagonist is a likable character. He leaves for the capital for a year to earn enough money to buy his father a fishing boat. A chance meeting with the magicless prince, Gar leads to friendship and a job as the prince’s assistant. He is fairly successful in what he does as is to be expected in this kind of novel but a great deal of my enjoyment with this book comes from the interaction between Gar and Asher. Gar was born Doranen but is handicapped and looked down on because his lack of magic while Asher is of low unmagical Olken origin and he starts to develop magic he is forbidden to even try. Another thing I enjoyed with Asher is his frankness it is often hilarious to read.

The story is about an unequal society and prejudice as well as a compelling personal story. The pace is steady and doesn’t bog down in unnecessary details; you know more or less as much as the characters do which isn’t much. I was intrigued by Morg and Barl who used to be lovers before he became an evil mage and she escaped to Lur but you don’t learn much about that in this book but I noticed that Karen Miller has a release of a prequel to Awakened Mage about them scheduled for August next year. It is titled Blight of Mages.

It ends in a cliffhanger but that’s no problem since the second and concluding book The Awakened Mage is already out.

Awakened Mage is a somewhat original take on “the peasant on which the destiny of the Kingdom rests”, it was a fast read even if it is quite long (613 pages) with interesting characters and funny dialog but you will want to have The Awakened Mage handy as it ends in a cliffhanger. The one complaint I would have is that not much is happening in the main plot until the last hundred pages or so but the character development and drama kept me entertained until then. I would recommend it if you want a different take on the usual fantasy tropes with strong characters.


Title: Innocent Mage
Series: Kingmaker, Kingbreaker book 1
Universe: Innocent Mage Universe
Author: Karen Miller (
Paperback: 613 pages
Publisher: Orbit (2009, First 2005)
Copy: Borrowed from my son

Order from: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

“The Innocent Mage is come, and we stand at the beginning of the end of everything.”

Being a fisherman like his father isn’t a bad life, but it’s not the one that Asher wants. Despite his humble roots, Asher has grand dreams. And they call him to Dorana, home of princes, beggars’and the warrior mages who have protected the kingdom for generations.

Little does Asher know, however, that his arrival in the city is being closely watched by members of the Circle, people dedicated to preserving an ancient magic.

Asher might have come to the city to make his fortune, but he will find his destiny.