The Wizard’s Gift by Michael Waller

4/10 I was always waiting for the story to wake up.

The last of an ancient group of wizards leaves a gift to the newly arrived race of men. It is revered and cared for by a line of priests until it is stolen, and the high priest and his sovereign murdered by a king who believes himself destined to be a great wizard. But from ancient writings the high priest had discovered that the gift is not benevolent as was thought. This forces the son of the high priest, unexpectedly elevated to his father's position, and the young prince who is equally suddenly king, into a race to find the gift before it can be used as that may cause the destruction of the world. Accompanied by the retired captain of the palace guard they hope to speed their journey by crossing the Wasteland, a seeming desert, which is fabled to be populated by monsters, and from which no visitor has ever returned. In the course of their adventures they are hunted by dog faced men and captured by slavers, but the young prince truly becomes a king, and the priest discovers that he has a destiny that goes beyond the bounds of his world.

I have been struggling to write this review for a couple of days now as I have found the book quite uninteresting and sometimes you want to find a few positives to give a fairer judgement. The pace of the book was quite slow, with little jolts of enjoyment and the build up to the finale was quite deflating. The characters were fairly lethargic and although the main characters did begin to grow it felt forced for some of the story.

The story itself is a quest to stop an evil wizard king from using The Wizard’s Gift, which he stole from the Kingdom of Bianmares. The King of Bianmares’ son Caran Tuith returns to find the city in ruins with his friend Bataan, the heir to the High Priesthood of the Wizards Gift, the almost retired Captain of the Guards Carantor, and his replacement Janorin.

As Janorin leaves on his own quest for vengeance after finding the King dead, we are left to follow the other three on their quest. Gradually they learn more about themselves and the world they live in whilst confronting the mysteries of the wasteland which they will need to survive to accomplish their goal.

As Caran Tuith is thrown into an early kingship he exhibits a lot of uncertainty which comes across as constant indecision, so that for the first half of the book he rarely makes a decision without consultation or else he cannot decide if he has made the right one when he goes straight for it, which slows the story down. Bataan’s story becomes more interesting in the middle part of the book when he learns more about the ancient past and his possible connection to it. Whereas Carantor works out that you can teach old dogs new tricks, when rescuing prisoners in the wasteland. All the characters do have their moments to shine and it is good that we get to visit the wizard king’s camp and see what is happening outside of the immediate story.

Unfortunately, although there were parts of the story I quite enjoyed, they were outweighed by the whole and I found it slightly disconcerting to keep finding in the text words such as careful spelt with a double ll. I felt that the author has promise but in this book I was always waiting for the story to wake up.

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