Abuse of Power is a fantasy novella introducing Brian W. Foster’s Rise of Mages series. It tells the tale of the meeting of August Asher and Alaina. August is a duke’s son and heir to his duchy, Alaina is a fugitive accused of being a mage.
Set in a realm referred to as the three kingdoms, magic is outlawed and the crime of being a mage is punishable by death. The argument for this is that it constitutes a threat to the rule of the nobles.
As a concept this is an interesting one that could lead to an exploration of the conflict between the ruling classes and the proletariat. A world driven by the fear of those that are different and the eponymous abuse of power of those nobles to keep the mages downtrodden is a concept worth exploring.
Unfortunately, this is more of an unconvincing love story between the two. The interactions between the two are far from believable. We are told that Alaina is “formidable” and “independent”, but her actions far from prove this. She sets aside her deep set (and well deserved) hatred of nobles as soon as she is rescued by August. To give Brian W. Foster the benefit of the doubt, this is short novella without much scope to explore this issue in depth, but it is not true to the character to turn around completely within the few days that the story takes place in. Her inner monologue consists entirely of her wondering about this large strong stranger and her occasionally remembering to pine for her lost fiance. It is worth noting at this point that she moves on incredibly quickly from such a traumatic event that happens a mere few months before the story takes place.
August himself is not much more fleshed out, but this at least seems to be intentional. A brash young soldier who thinks of himself as a hero and loves nothing more than fighting, at least his actions fit into the character that Foster presents to us.
The whole affair proceeds very predictably, to the point where I feel like giving away the ending could not even be considered a spoiler. I won’t quite sink to that point.
Suffice to say that the only interesting part of this novella is the concept of the outlawing of magic, and it’s a concept that has been done before and has been done better.
It is perhaps harsh of me to judge a series on the prequel novella rather than the initial full length offering, and maybe Foster’s writing can find room to grow in the longer format that a novel can provide.
Reviewed by PD Richmond
You can buy Abuse of Power on Amazon