The Other Magic (Passage to Dawn #1), by Derrick Smythe

debbieh2109's review against another edition

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A great book with great characters and a lot of intense moments. Really enjoy how all the characters eventuality end up coming together. Kibure trying to figure out about his magic and who he is. Aynward a very arrogant prince but he realizes his friends are more important than his wellbeing. Friends will be gain but some will be lost. Lots of twist and turns in the book that will keep you reading till the end. I really enjoyed the book and looking forward to the next in series.

aku911's review against another edition

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Started out a little slow but had a fast paced ending.

see_sadie_read's review against another edition

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"I have finished it!" I shouted this while throwing my arms up in the universal victory pose. (Good thing I was home alone with the dog, and even she looked at me funny.) I felt held hostage by this book; determined to finish it but feeling as if it would never end. A full third of it needs to be cut away, in my opinion, probably more. The first 150 pages (in which one character is held in a cage and another is held hostage in a ship for 90% of the time) could literally be condensed to 10, for example.

I feel bad too. When I accepted this for review it had no other reviews. So, I asked the author if he was sure he wanted to send it to me, seeing as I write an honest review. This meant if I loved it we would be fine, but if I didn't there would be no other reviews to balance my poor rating out. In retrospect, I feel like this might have made it look like I was setting the book up to fail, expecting to pan it. But that's not the case. I went in full of hope and then just lingered, fell into a malaise of boredom and eventually just had to force myself to finish it, one snippet chapter at a time over almost a month. (A month! It took me—who can start a standard 350 page paperback after dinner and finish it before bed—to finish this book.)

Let me step away from how hard I had to work to force myself to chip away at this tome to say that there is a lot of good in it. I don't want to leave the impression that this is 625 pages of dreck. It's not! It's just that the good (real attempts at grey characters, interesting magic systems, loyalty and character growth) is buried deep in too much verbiage. The story told here simply did not need 625 pages to be told.

What's more those 625 pages are broken up into 1-3 page chapters, in most cases. So, you get a page or two of Sindri, a page or two of Kibure or Grobennar, and then a bit more of Aynward (maybe 10-15 pages). His chapters tended to be a bit longer, as it's where the book's mythos is dropped. But even that felt off. Sindri and Kibure are running for their lives. Grobennar is on a holy quest and Aynward is....looking for his classroom on his first day of university. That was 100% not where the focus of the book felt it needed to be. But more importantly these little vignette chapters never let me settle into the narrative. I was never able to forget I was reading a book and sink into the story. Thus, I was 100% aware of every one of those 625 pages. Tedious hardly does the experience credit.

The story itself isn't bad, interesting even. I thought the writing a tad pedestrian, but certainly readable. I thought the character growth was handled clumsily, but it was there and I appreciated it. All in all, I have no doubt this book will find it's audience. It is after all an ok book. But for myself and my opinion (for what it's worth), I'd love to see it given to a vicious content editor that could hack away at it, tighten it up, and make it a great book.

dbguide2's review

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I didn’t even reach the 5% mark. I tried hard with this one, but it was definitely not to be. It wasn’t holding my attention at all. I got through the first chapter and realized I wouldn’t be finishing the book, but tried a bit more. But ended up (like I knew I would) deciding to stop reading.

It was the case of the writer thinking they were capable of writing lengthy sentences and thinking it would work because they’re writing a fantasy book – it’s even more seen when it’s a high/epic fantasy book. It’s a very, very common thing to have long sentences for fantasy because I don’t know, apparently fantasy = long sentences. Some authors do it well and I’m not too annoyed by it. Personally I think we could without long sentences in fantasy or anywhere else. Like learn where to end one sentence and begin another (of course, I’m including myself here). Smythe, unfortunately, is not an author who knows how to masterfully create long sentences.

That was mostly the reason for dnfing the book. I could tell I would have this issue the entire way through and I wasn’t interested in having to slog through a near full paragraph and it just being one sentence. Plus, the characters didn’t capture my interest from the beginning.

myra_'s review against another edition

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This review first published on Oh Just Books.

The Other Magic is book one of the epic fantasy series Passage to Dawn. I'll be honest, I haven't read any epic fantasy books in the longest time, and this book was such a welcome surprise. At 600+ pages, it isn't a small book by any means, but it's just what I needed. The feeling of being able to immerse yourself in a book universe for days on end (and often late into the night) is a feeling I haven't experienced in a while.

The challenge with epic fantasy is being able to do justice to the detailed world building without needless exposition. Capturing the details and settings while not going overboard in a particular aspect is not an easy thing to do. Symthe does it in a way that seems effortless and keeps drawing you into the story. While it seems effortless, I know, as an aspiring author, that this is an immensely difficult thing to pull off. So I absolutely admire it both as a reader and a writer. At no point did the descriptions, scenes, or stories become boring or overbearing. It was neatly and beautifully woven into the plot as a whole. If more epic fantasy books were like this, I would probably read more epic fantasy.

The main players of this book are Kibure, a slave boy who doesn't know how to handle his newly discovered magic talent; Sindri, an outcast Klerol priestess who wants to harness Kibure's power for her own agenda; Aynward, a well-meaning prince who hasn't quite yet learnt the ways of the world and gets involved in things he couldn't anticipate; and Grobennar, a high priest who is starting to lose his position of power as trusted advisor to an egomaniacal God-king. The plot weaves together their stories and lives, and how things turn out in ways they couldn't have anticipated or imagined.

Read the rest of the review here.