What You Need to Know: Originally published as five serialized novellas released from December 2013 through December 2014 the Starship’s Mage: Omnibus is a spaceships and sorcery novel of high action and adventure set in a version of our future where magic has enable us to journey beyond our own solar system.
Space fantasy is a bizarre and wonderful little sub-genre that isn’t as prolific as it should be (particularly given that a certain series from a galaxy far far away is essentially space fantasy). So, coming across the description of Stewart’s Starship’s Mage: Omnibus, in which jump mages are the essential component to interstellar travel I was rather intrigued. The series of novellas follows the exploits of the recently graduated Jump Mage Damien Montgomery as he takes a position upon the merchant ship the Blue Jay. The Omnibus edition I listened combines them all seamlessly however there are some odd repetitive quirks, typically summarizing events that just occurred, leftover from the book’s original format.
The Starship’s Mage Omnibus does an excellent job a laying the groundwork of the world that Stewart has created wherein the powerful Mage King of Mars has united a multitude of planets under his rule. Bound to the authority of the Mage King the magic-users of these worlds enjoy a privileged position. The book delves a little deeper as it explores the bureaucracy of Mage’s Guild and its treatment of unregulated magic; a fact that is particularly vexing for Damien as his actions early in the series see him on the outs with the Guild. Damien’s outcast status is sort of inherited by the rest of the crew of the Blue Jay and their exile’s journey takes them to hardscrabble worlds who have rejected the rule of mages.
This is a light a breezy book that tends to focus harder on action and adventure over characterization. Most of the heavy lifting in the characterization arena falls on Damien himself and readers will learn quite a bit about the young man’s personality. The rest of the characters don’t get quite as well-rounded a treatment. While Damien often struggles with the feats he pulls off in order to survive there were times when things felt a bit too easy. While there are certainly losses amongst the crew of the Blue Jay during its journey there is little direct loss that seems to impact Damien himself. It would have been nice to see a bit more hardship for our hero.
Starship’s Mage: Omnibus shows a lot of promise and many of its shortcomings can be attributed to Stewart’s relative inexperience and quirks of the novellas original release schedule. It is still an enjoyable read that blends familiar tropes from both science fiction and heroic fantasy into a cohesive whole. Thankfully, Glynn Stewart has expanded on his world with the recent release of Hand of Mars set 3 years after the events of the Starship’s Mage: Omnibus. The audiobook version, procuded by Tantor Media and narrated by Jeffrey Kafer, is quite excellent with a quality performance and top notch production quality. If you are look for a fantasy book that is a little different I high recommend you give Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage Omnibus a chance.