The Rite of Wands

by Mackenzie Flohr

Synopsis

The story begins with three young characters: Mierta, a young warlock, son of the King’s physician, who has just completed the rite of wands; Orlynd, another warlock with the ability to foresee the future; Déor, the young prince and heir to his father Francis. In Part One, Mierta begins experimenting with potions with less than successful results. Orlynd becomes the counselor to King Francis and meets young Déor. King Francis is poisoned and dies despite Orlynd trying to warn him. Déor and his wife Anya become the rulers of the kingdom.

Part Two begins twenty years later. Mierta has become an accomplished warlock. Anya is plotting to kill Déor and take over the kingdom. A plague has broken out claiming Mierta’s father as a victim. Déor is shot with a poisoned arrow and taken by Orlynd to the healer Liliana.

Theme of the Book

In The Rite of Wands readers will find a complex plot involving ambition, loyalty, good and evil.

What I Liked About the story

Ms. Flohr has succeeded in melding a set of fantasy kingdoms with elements of the real world. Her characters refer to the Vatican as a religious authority; the Irish potato famine afflicts one of her kingdoms. Orlynd’s Celtic dialect is based on reality and the presence of the banshee on Celtic lore. Her fantasy kingdoms are well-defined and the culture she has invented is realistic and detailed.

At the beginning of the book, the main characters, Orlynd, Mierta, and Déor, are all of a similar age, young to mid teens, and their characteristics are easily identified with by young readers. Mierta is ambitious, intelligent and anxious to make his father proud. His first attempts at making potions provide a bit of humor in an otherwise serious novel. Orlynd is shy around authority figures, insecure about his gift, and anxious to please the king. Déor is a horrible person – an obnoxious bully. These are all characters that would appeal to YA readers.

Later in the book, after a lapse of twenty years, both Mierta and Déor have changed completely. The reader’s sympathy, first for Mierta, switches to Déor. Only Orlynd keeps his same character. The plot becomes much more complex with Anya’s machinations to kill Déor and take over the kingdom. We don’t know the basis for Anya’s plotting unless it is simply part of her character.

What I Didn’t Like About the story

I was very confused by the character development in The Rite of Wands. Mierta, who starts out as a somewhat bumbling but eager to please character becomes an ambitious plotter ready to sacrifice his family and friends for success. Why? What happened to this character to change him? Déor, who begins as an obnoxious bully, turns around to become a good king. Why? Is it simply the danger to Orlynd’s life? He showed no concern for Orlynd before this. Perhaps the answer lies in the years missing between Parts One and Two. Perhaps the reader needs to wait for the second novel in the series to find the answer.

And this leads me to a question. Why does every new author want to write a series? Why do so many books have cliffhanger endings? I would be so happy to find a new author who is capable of writing a self-contained novel that is interesting enough to lead me to read the next in the series. Instead, readers who enjoyed the first installment are basically forced to spend their money to continue the story.

If I had one piece of advice for new authors it would be use a good proof-reader before publishing their work. I found it discouraging that there were so many instances of misused or missing commas and, especially in Part Two, a number of typos: the king says he needs his “conscious; the queen focuses on someone’s “crouch”; we learn that Orlynd’s eyes are full of “furry”. This is simply sloppy work.

Final Say

The Rite of Wands has the potential to be an excellent series. Unfortunately, the first installment didn’t interest me enough to want to continue.

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