RogerBW's Blog

Mountain of Mars, Glynn Stewart 31 July 2023

2020 SF, eighth of its series. The Mage-King of Mars has been assassinated; Damien Montgomery takes over as Lord Regent for the young Mage-Queen.

So some of this is escalation of scope: Damien was already involved at a fairly high policy level, but now he's thrown into all of it. At the same time he's desperate to avoid any appearance of undue influence: he could spend the years of regency enriching himself or building up a power base, but he really doesn't want to, and part of that avoidance means not being a rallying-point for anyone who might want an appearance of legality to cover their own takeover.

And there aren't that many people with the particular high magical power level that he has. Which much of the time means that only he and the queen have the capacity to do a particular dangerous thing, and that means he still has to be the guy to do it, over the entirely reasonable objections of bodyguards and doctors.

While there's plenty of special-ops action here, there's also a surprising amount of polity-building. Things were already moving in the direction of a more equitable partnership between Big Magic and individual worlds' governments, and that has to be kept going, perhaps especially with new rulers who have seen the failures of the old system up close in a way that the old king didn't.

A certain question in the big plot is answered in a way that I think most readers had been more or less expecting, and with most of the major elements resolved I hope the series won't lose its tension; but I don't think it will. The "everything for the good of humanity" conspirator is well-painted both as having an actual point but also as being a fanatic who will sacrifice everything in service of his plan for getting to that point while never considering any alternatives.

I realise Stewart has a ridiculous book production rate, nine or more in a year in multiple series, but he still manages to keep things interesting, and even at the huge power levels available to some of the principals, there's still doubt over how they'll prevail and who else will be hurt in the process.

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Previous in series: Sword of Mars | Series: Starship's Mage | Next in series: The Service of Mars
Previous in series: Sword of Mars | Series: UnArcana Rebellion

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