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Ends of Magic

Written By Alexander Olson

We're closing 2023 on a high with Alexander Olson's 'Ends of Magic'! A stirring portal fantasy that sets the main character down a path of adventure, science, and rage, I thought the story deserved the praise it's been receiving and am happy I picked it up. I give it 4.5 stars!

The setting is likely one of the strongest parts of this book. Without getting into spoilers, the main character is thrown into a world where the ruling class takes advantage of anyone they deem different. From the beginning of the story, the main character is placed at odds with these elites, causing us to root for the main character almost right away. I expect the setting to be explored much further in the next book and think the grudge between the main character and a certain mage could carry forward for many books to come - all very entertaining.

The characters were interesting, and the author's choice to place the main character with a group of 'heirs' was smart. These heirs inherit a great deal of power while also proving a worthy backdrop to put the main character in more interesting positions and situations. I believe some of these interactions, with both the heirs and their parents, were a nice side plot against the action that happened throughout the story.

The mechanics for progression were something I'd never seen before, and really loved. The concept of insights, again no spoilers, was well thought out and really intriguing. I have a deep appreciation for a quantifiable marker that isn't just 'the character gained 2 in strength for walking straight'. I don't hate simpler progression tactics, but I love LitRPGs that use the genre's core principle: quantified progression, in a unique and thoughtful way. Very cool.

As with all reviews, there should be some criticism. With this story, I had a couple of gripes. First, I wish it had been a bit shorter, but as with the current trend, books are pushing for 500-600 pages right now and I seem to be a part of the minority. Still, I found certain parts dragging a little bit and wouldn't have minded a bit more focused story-telling.

The second is both a negative and a positive. The author is a well accomplished scientist themselves who made use of their knowledge in this book. Several times concepts were discussed that I could never have imagined seeing in a fantasy - If I were counting, I believe it mentions at least 8 mathematical models or theories! These were both interesting, but also felt like a few too many at times.

Overall a great story, it is well deserving of 4.5-5 stars and I would implore anyone to check it out.

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