By Aimee Davis
Series: Changing Tides Book 1
Paperback: 329 pages
Publication Date: November 29, 2016
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ✰ ( 4 out of 5 Stars )
Alena Kozlov is one of the last of a dying kind. As the first water mage to be inducted into the Sanctum in over fifty years, she has the opportunity to help the old order destroy a band of rebel mages who threaten the principles the Sanctum is founded upon.
Blinded by loyalty to the Sanctum and love for her master, Alena and three other mages set out to investigate the rebels, but the more she discovers, the less she understands.
Confronted with hard truths about the Sanctum she once believed in and the corruption she sees within it, Alena must make one of the most difficult decisions of her life: follow the path she’s trained for or leave the Sanctum behind.
Whatever the answer, she knows one thing for sure—the old Sanctum saying is true: It is a rocky road she must travel.
Alena is our main protagonist in The Wheel Mages. The story begins with her about to take her Tests to become a Sanctum Mage, after 5 years as an apprentice for an Earth Mage named Nikolai. She is the first Water Mage to achieve this feat in 50 years, as it seems magic is gradually dying out in this world. Since she can first remember, she has believed the Sanctum a pure and positive organisation. I really like her character, and the progression she went through as she learned new things about the Sanctum and its members. It was refreshing to see she was a person with an open mind, and when presented with new information that conflicted with her beliefs, she was able to change her beliefs. Open mindedness is one of my favorite characteristics in a person, and my book characters are no different! The reader witnesses Lena grow up and mature from the sheltered, naive apprentice to the almost-broken Mage. My heart breaks for her time and time again. Her love for Nikolai is problematic in this new and dangerous world that she finds herself thrust into. A world that she doesn't understand. Not knowing who to trust, she must question everything she has ever known. I fully enjoyed watching her stumble and fall, and get back up stronger than before. She never had a clear indication of who she could trust, yet she didn't close her heart off when she was betrayed. That is one of the greatest indications of strength in a person, and Lena was a very strong character. I fell in love with her multiple times!
The love triangle between Lena, Nikolai, and Philipe was dramatic while it lasted. Thankfully, it wasn't drawn out and ended quickly with what was MY choice winning out against the other. In my opinion, there was never a choice to begin with, but Lena saw something in Philipe that I never really understood. He was arrogant and selfish, for the most part. Nikolai was a total asshole at times (what man isn't, tbh?), but at least the reader knew that he was truly in love with her and had her best interests at heart. I always questioned Philipe's intentions, even though he did turn out to be right about a lot of things. Both males were written well, and I got a strong impression of their characters throughout the story.
Camille was probably my least favorite character, until she wasn't. Against all odds, I ended up falling in love with her as well. She was strong and brave, yet silly and childish. It was a good combination when it came to her place in this story. I hated the conclusion of her role, but I don't feel like it could have ended any other way. It was a good incentive for Lena to make the choices that she did. Kudos, Miss Davis for the difficult task of ending that scene the way that you did. I hated it and loved it and ahh!
As a detail obsessed history nerd, I wish there would have been more back story about the Sanctum. I understand the whole info-dump thing can be overwhelming, but I never did find that connection with their mission for the elusive Sanctum in the beginning. All the reader knows is that it is a group of Mages, run by four Masters, each with their own elemental magic. Air, fire, water, and earth. Four Mages with elemental magic of all four elements make up a wheel, which supposedly makes each Mage's magic super powerful. Apprentices are given tests to be considered a Sanctum Mage, and once they pass, the Mage must swear an oath of loyalty to give up their life if needed for the protection of the collective whole. I wanted a history of the Sanctum; where it came from, its rules and goals, its place in society, do non-magic wielding citizens know about it, etc.. I feel like if this all would have been explained before the mission to locate rogue mages began, I would have had more of an understanding of what was going on. That is really my only issue with this book.
All in all, I absolutely loved it! The story was fresh and had enough twists to make it wonderful. It was beautifully written, I was able to see the characters and place in my mind which is important in a good read. My favorite part was that it kept me guessing the entire way through. I never knew who was going to betray who. Thank you Aimee for the chance to read this book and fall in love with the world that you created! It is a pleasure, and I cannot wait to pick up the next one! Get to writing, lady! (:
"The inner Sanctum was silent and dark. Walking into the room made me feel like I was walking into a cave and despite the high ceilings and openness, my chest tightened. I felt caged and though the cage was beautiful, with its tall granite pillars and fine marble floors checkered black and white like a chessboard, it was still a cage."
"What else was he keeping from me/ And did he honestly believe all this secrecy was protecting me? As far as I could tell, he'd brought me into a snake pit but failed to tell me which snakes were poisonous."
"I let her story sink in, a little at a time. The more I learned, the less I understood. All my life, I'd thought of the Sanctum as good and pure, an elite body of people interested in justice, but at every turn, that idea was challenged. I was challenged."
Meet the Author: Aimee Davis
Hey everyone, I’m Aimee, author of the debut novel The Wheel Mages. If you’re here, you probably want to know a little about me, so I’m going to give you a quick run down. I was born on February 22, 1988 (Pisces) in a little town in west-central Pennsylvania called Dubois, which is just outside Punxsutawney (the place with the weather-forecasting groundhog). My family moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia when I was about 9 months old, and I still call the suburbs home.
I grew up in a typical (read: dysfunctional) family. I loved school and reading and all things magic. My bedroom was always covered in posters of unicorns and dolphins, and I dreamed of being an author. To make that dream come alive, I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to enter their creative writing undergraduate program and hone my craft. Fast forward a bunch of years, and here we are.
Here’s the most important thing to know about me though: I want this journey to be as much about you as it is about me. Authors wouldn’t be much without their audience, after all. You matter to me. Say it aloud if you have to. You matter to me. Never forget that.
So that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to tell me about him or herself. Drop me an email, comment on this post (or any other), hit me up on Facebook, tweet me. Tell me about you! Tell me about your dreams and hopes and fears. Tell me about where you’ve been and where you’re going. Tell me about what you had for breakfast, I don’t care. In return, I’ll tell you some fun things about me and try my very hardest to keep you involved in the creative process, warts and all, so you can see how writing goes from telling a story to taking a journey.