Ink Mage
This book is a Kindle Serial. Kindle Serials are stories published in episodes, with future episodes delivered every two weeks (to be complete January, 2014).The city of Klaar has never fallen. No enemy has ever made it across the Long Bridge or penetrated the city’s mighty walls. Even when a powerful invading army shows up at the gates, the duke and his daughter, Rina Veraiin, are certain that it poses little threat.But they are cruelly betrayed from within and, in a horrific spasm of violence, the city is brought to its knees.With the help of her bodyguard, Kork, the battle-trained young Rina narrowly escapes the slaughter and makes her way to the lair of an ancient sorcerer—the Ink Mage—who gifts her with a strange, beautiful set of magical tattoos.Now a duchess in exile, Rina sets out on a quest to reclaim what is rightfully hers, aided by a motley assortment of followers who will help her in her cause—some for noble reasons and others for their own dark purposes.With the enemy’s agents nipping at her heels, Rina must learn to harness her new and startling magical powers if she is to assert her rightful place as ruler of Klaar.Episode ListAn additional episode will be delivered every two weeks until the book is complete. New episodes will be added to the same book on your Kindle, keeping your place and retaining your notes and highlights. You'll be notified via email when a new episode has been delivered.

Ink Mage Details

TitleInk Mage
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 22nd, 2013
Publisher47North
Rating
GenreFantasy, Magic, Young Adult, Fiction

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Ink Mage Review

  • Helen 2.0
    January 1, 1970
    No matter what goodreads tries to tell you, let me say that this is not YA. Even if the protagonist is young (19 or so), the book is vulgar, bloody, and explicit. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind any of those things. I'm only warning you, if you can't handle R rated movies, you probably can't handle this book.That said, Ink Mage deserves a full five stars for the magic system alone. Mages gain the power to speak the language of the universe, or rather enhance their mental and physical powers, by No matter what goodreads tries to tell you, let me say that this is not YA. Even if the protagonist is young (19 or so), the book is vulgar, bloody, and explicit. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind any of those things. I'm only warning you, if you can't handle R rated movies, you probably can't handle this book.That said, Ink Mage deserves a full five stars for the magic system alone. Mages gain the power to speak the language of the universe, or rather enhance their mental and physical powers, by inking special tattoos under their skin. Only few wizards remain with the knowledge of how to apply and implement these tattoos; Rina meets one of them after her parents and duchy are ripped from her by an invading force. The magic system is original and creative. Each tattoo grants a specific ability, but what I liked most is that many of the tattoos don't necessarily grant a superpower; they just make someone especially good at a natural human skill. For example, Rina often uses a tattoo that clears her mind and makes her more perceptive, or another that makes her stronger. The more ordinary tattoos are the ones that prove most useful to Rina, and I think that makes a good point that you don't need to be more than human to make a difference. That's my take, anyway.I had to knock one star off my rating because of the structure of the book, specifically the rapidly switching POVs. Victor Gischler was probably going for a Game of Thrones style book with many characters telling the story from all sides, but it didn't pan out that way. Many of the characters granted narration where too insignificant to warrant a personal point of view. The Perranese general for example, or the soldier pursueing Rina, had chapters for no apparent reason and distracted from the main plot. Just Rina, Alem, and Tosh would have sufficed as focus characters.
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  • Terence
    January 1, 1970
    The city of Klaar is impregnable. It's Long Bridge and massive walls have never been bested by an enemy...until it was betrayed by one of their own. The Duke and Duchess were murdered, while their daughter Rina Veraiin was able to escape with the help of her bodyguard and teacher Kork. Kork following the Duke's last wishes takes Rina to an old mage who bestows upon her the special tattooed based magical power of an Ink Mage. Rina sets out to get help to reclaim her home.When I read the synopsis The city of Klaar is impregnable. It's Long Bridge and massive walls have never been bested by an enemy...until it was betrayed by one of their own. The Duke and Duchess were murdered, while their daughter Rina Veraiin was able to escape with the help of her bodyguard and teacher Kork. Kork following the Duke's last wishes takes Rina to an old mage who bestows upon her the special tattooed based magical power of an Ink Mage. Rina sets out to get help to reclaim her home.When I read the synopsis for Ink Mage, it sounded interesting to me so I decided to give it a try. I didn't imagine I'd enjoy it as much as I did. Victor Gischler created an interesting world with compelling characters and amazing abilities.By far the most interesting part of the story was the abilities of an Ink Mage. It's an old power that mages tattoo on people. A power source is tattooed on the back called a prime and additional tattoos can be added to provide different abilities. I've seen tattoos used to bestow power in other series, but never in such a unique fashion. It's somewhat akin to the wandering warriors from old stories who travel from master to master in search of new techniques. The difference is that instead of teaching techniques mages gift them to those seeking powers by tattooing them. No lessons needed really, it's simply a matter of gaining the tattoo and learning to wield the power.The story is told from multiple point of views. The protagonists are the primary point of view characters, but the antagonists also receive point of view chapters from time to time. I enjoy having a story told by multiple characters, it gives a more diverse experience and allows the reader to really understand a multitude of characters rather than just one.Ink Mage was perhaps one of the more sexually graphic fantasy novels I've read in a while. There is no fade to black when things get physical. There are quite a few of these scenes as a myriad of prostitutes appear throughout the story.In the end I have to say Ink Mage was really a good story. I'm excited to read the sequel.4 out of 5 starsI received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    The most frustrating read ever! Not the actual story but the way the book was delivered. This was my first and last time at reading a Kindle Serial book which is released in small episodes every 2-3 weeks. I was especially frustrated when I would finish each episode in 15 minutes and then have to wait weeks for the next bit. My husband would hear me cursing the book every time I got a new bit to read and had to wait. It looks like the book is now available to download in its entirety so folks do The most frustrating read ever! Not the actual story but the way the book was delivered. This was my first and last time at reading a Kindle Serial book which is released in small episodes every 2-3 weeks. I was especially frustrated when I would finish each episode in 15 minutes and then have to wait weeks for the next bit. My husband would hear me cursing the book every time I got a new bit to read and had to wait. It looks like the book is now available to download in its entirety so folks don't have to endure the torture. The story was pretty good and it makes for an easy/fun read. I would have given this more stars if I didn't have so much resentment over the waiting game with the serial releases.
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  • Eoghann Irving
    January 1, 1970
    Well this was a hot mess. Which caught me by surprise because the author, Victor Gischler is a published writer with award nominations to his name. I haven't read his prose previously but had read some of his comic book work. It wasn't amazing, but it was fundamentally competent. So what went wrong here?I have a few theories about that, but first some information about the book. The Ink Mage is in essence a fairly traditional fantasy adventure story about a young girl (who also happens to be a Well this was a hot mess. Which caught me by surprise because the author, Victor Gischler is a published writer with award nomi­na­tions to his name. I haven't read his prose previ­ously but had read some of his comic book work. It wasn't amazing, but it was funda­men­tally compe­tent. So what went wrong here?I have a few theo­ries about that, but first some infor­ma­tion about the book. The Ink Mage is in essence a fairly tradi­tional fantasy adven­ture story about a young girl (who also happens to be a duchess) who comes into power and has to rescue her city. I went into it expecting what I term adoles­cent fantasy.Adoles­cent FantasyI use that phrase not to deni­grate the stories but to describe the type of plot where the focus is a youthful hero growing up and coming into their own. These stories gener­ally have a pretty roman­ti­cized view of the world and a posi­tive outlook. I find them quite refreshing to read when they are done well. It makes a change from the grimdark.Unfor­tu­nately The Ink Mage doesn't actu­ally seem to know what it wants to be. Because while it has all the elements in place for an adoles­cent fantasy story, it keeps drifting into grim­dark terri­tory. The result is extremely uneven and attempted rape scenes or sex scenes that just feel wildly out of place with the rest of the story.You see The Ink Mage exists in what is defi­nitely a simpli­fied and roman­ti­cized fantasy world so these sudden plunges into realism only serve to high­light the arti­fi­cial nature of the story construct.Really, you've got to pick a style and go with it.Lurching From Scene To SceneThere's another struc­tural problem with The Ink Mage and I suspect it is a result of the story's origin as a Kindle Serial. The book is split into several episodes each of which was released as a Kindle Single. But there's a skill to writing a serial and both keeping each part inter­esting while also keeping the story as a whole cohesive.There are points in The Ink Mage where stuff happens just to create a dramatic intro­duc­tory moment or a cliffhanger scene. These moments don't actu­ally have any signif­i­cance to the ongoing narra­tive, so as a reader I'm left wondering why this happened and why I'm supposed to care about it.These moments may have worked better in serial form but reading this as a novel they make the story feel unfin­ished, like the author never got round to cleaning up after his first draft.Moving The Pieces Around The BoardIf those were the only prob­lems with this book it would be bad enough. But they're not. The char­acter work here is minimal at best. Our view­point char­ac­ters do get a little explo­ration but everyone else rather obvi­ously exists just to serve the plot.There isn't even a pretense at giving them any sort of back­ground or anything beyond the most basic person­ality. And in some cases what minimal person­ality they do have is casu­ally discarded in order to have them do what the story needs them to do.I have said in other reviews that a char­acter can be made to do just about anything if you set the scenes up right. And I think that's true. But it's some­thing you have to earn. You have to build up to the appar­ently out of char­acter behavior. You don't just have it happen and assume the reader will be fine with it.You also shouldn't have char­ac­ters do things that won't make sense to the reader without finding a way to explain it. Why are all these mages and priests so happy to provide Rina Veraiin with magical tattoos? Not once are we given a reason for this. It happens because it needs to happen.Perhaps the worst char­acter offense the author commits is to sacri­fice one of the char­ac­ters in the goal of a tragic moment near the end, only to make me as a reader realise that I know so little about the char­acter I really don't care that she's dead.A Mish­mash Of MagicBut wait, there's more! I've seen comments else­where about how inter­esting the magic system is in this book. But it's really not a system. It's a mish­mash of elements, none of which are explained at all.We have Dungeons and Dragons style magic users, Ink Mages who get their power from magical tattoos, wizards who ink tattoos (but we aren't told where their power comes from), oh and priests who presum­ably get their power from the gods, except those gods aren't even mentioned until about three quar­ters of the way into the book.That is not a Magic System, it's one kind of cool idea surrounded by a bunch of clichés.There's another problem with this ink based magic too. It's basi­cally just super­powers in a fantasy setting. Several books have taken this approach (including Brandon Sanderson in Mist­born) and it's one of my least favorite ways to use magic. But it can be made to work if you make the effort.Here though Rina just rides around the coun­try­side (not both­ering to warn her King that his country has been invaded) collecting tattoos so she can be strong and fast and heal. There's nothing clever or orig­inal going on here at all.Respect Your WorldNext problem! Gischler's writing style clashes with the world he's presenting in this book. We're given a world that is a tradi­tional fantasy setting. Middle Ages, minimal science. But the char­ac­ters all speak and act in a modern way.The most obvious example of that is that we're supposed to believe the peas­ants of Klaar would feel patri­otic towards their country and care who was ruling them.No. They wouldn't. They're peas­ants. Their life sucks either way. They are just not going to form a rebel­lion unless you actu­ally show the invaders being notice­ably more unpleasant to them than their former ruler was. The notions of national pride and patri­o­tism are compar­a­tively modern constructs. If you're going to use them in your fantasy world, you'd better build in the elements that make them make sense.And if you're going to set up a Kingdom that's being invaded, don't try to tell me that the King will play poli­tics and refuse to remove the invaders from his country just so he can try to get a Duchess to marry his son. For a start, he's the King. If he wants the Duchess to marry his son… she marries his son. Secondly he can't simply ignore an invading army. That's both tacti­cally and strate­gi­cally idiotic.Do You Have Anything Good To Say?Well it has a nice cover…
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  • Mitticus
    January 1, 1970
    2.75 inky stars Strange how honors and burdens are so often confused.Rina is the would-be duchess in Klaar, when the supposed inexpugnable city is conquered by the Perranese a loyal help her to flee the city.Let me get strait that this is not a YA book. There is a lot of sex and violence. The tone following the vicissitudes of Tosh -the deserter soldier and one of the others POV- in the city is really diferent, crude and more realistic, than the adventures following Rina traipsing in the wild se 2.75 inky stars Strange how honors and burdens are so often confused.Rina is the would-be duchess in Klaar, when the supposed inexpugnable city is conquered by the Perranese a loyal help her to flee the city.Let me get strait that this is not a YA book. There is a lot of sex and violence. The tone following the vicissitudes of Tosh -the deserter soldier and one of the others POV- in the city is really diferent, crude and more realistic, than the adventures following Rina traipsing in the wild searching for the wizards with no plan in her head.What is her aim? Revenge? To me, is like she only wants to be back to her old life. In any moment she thinks in the people of Klaar (view spoiler)[, and I still find awful that she just let Kork wounded in the snow when she enters the cave, adn never think in ask for he be allowed inside (hide spoiler)]. She ask a ton of Alem, treating him like a servant and not even thank him. And the fool follow her like a puppy ... “Rina Veraiin will never know happiness,” Maurizan said. “She is consumed by her own potential, by what she thinks fate has destined for her. She wears her destiny around her neck like a lead weight. It will drag down anyone who tries to hold her up.”Rina is searching power. Because never mind all the secretive, and the warning about the dangerous wizards, people keep pointing in their direction with a wink to her and they just give up their knowlege?? pleeease. And she master those power in a blink , of course.The idea of the ink is interesting . Specially (view spoiler)[ the first one that allow to add the others (hide spoiler)] But with the last addition she is too much. Torsh in the tavern and Braisley with his politics are more credible, specially the guy trying to scape from all this. Tosh opened his mouth to say something, but couldn’t think of anything that mattered. He tried not to cry, but the ache behind his eyes overpowered him. He let it go and cried with abandon, his animal keening echoing along the deserted, snow-crusted streets of Klaar.I feel you, Tosh.**Digital edition courtesy of Netgalley**
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  • Montzalee Wittmann
    January 1, 1970
    Ink Mage by Victor Gischler is a wonderful fantasy novel about a girl, a duchess, that sees her father and mother murdered in front of her by an invading army and traitor. She is helped out of the city by her body guard and friend to see a wizard that gives her a powerful and magical tattoo that strengthens her body and helps her fight. She later gets more tattoos and soon so is very powerful. She is also assisted by others and they have many adventures on the way. Lots of characters and stories Ink Mage by Victor Gischler is a wonderful fantasy novel about a girl, a duchess, that sees her father and mother murdered in front of her by an invading army and traitor. She is helped out of the city by her body guard and friend to see a wizard that gives her a powerful and magical tattoo that strengthens her body and helps her fight. She later gets more tattoos and soon so is very powerful. She is also assisted by others and they have many adventures on the way. Lots of characters and stories in the book that come together near the end, great weave. I won't tell more but it is very exciting,full of action, imagination, blow by blow play that happens quickly, amazing feats, a bit of romance, a wonderful plot and complex characters. I want to see more. I was given this book for a honest review from NetGalley but will look for the next book, it was that good. Loved it! Fantasy at it's best.
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  • Jason M Waltz
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this one. not spectacular, but my first 4 star in a while. I like the girl growing into a woman, a duchess, a magic user, a leader, a lover heroine. I like the world, the magic, the plot, the sidekicks, the adventure. and that's what this is overall--a fun adventure. I'm heading off into book 2 now. Which just might be all my review needed to say.
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  • Talitha (Victorian Soul)
    January 1, 1970
    This was a most interesting read. A magic system based mainly on tattoos? Color me intrigued. As it turns out, this has basis in our history, as yantra tattooing.Yantra tattoos are supposed to be a sort of good luck charm, or bestow magical powers, much like in this book. The practice is two millennia old.Ink Mage certainly follows some Game of Thrones clichés. Almost rape? Check. People getting killed left and right? Double check. Turncoat traitors? You betcha.While I understand the need to fol This was a most interesting read. A magic system based mainly on tattoos? Color me intrigued. As it turns out, this has basis in our history, as yantra tattooing.Yantra tattoos are supposed to be a sort of good luck charm, or bestow magical powers, much like in this book. The practice is two millennia old.Ink Mage certainly follows some Game of Thrones clichés. Almost rape? Check. People getting killed left and right? Double check. Turncoat traitors? You betcha.While I understand the need to follow some of the fantasy industry's "swing" into darker themes and gray morality, there was a certain amount of eye-rolling on my part in the first chapters of this book. Of three people who were killed in the first part, I only felt the slightest twinge of pity for one of them. The brutality didn't ring true for me, because I wasn't invested in the characters at all (at that early point). When Bran Stark made his fall from the window, I felt awful. And that was in the early pages of Game of Thrones, and he didn't even die.It is unfair of me to compare this book with one that is almost a masterpiece. But by injecting grit into a fantasy in the form of blasé violence that didn't quite seem realistic, this intriguing book commenced with a thud.Read more at:http://victoriansoulcritiques.blogspo...
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    super religious people don't like this book because of all of the swearing, apparently. shit, that's too fucking bad for them I guess. makes me like it even more, goddamnit.
  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    INK MAGE opens in dramatic fashion, thrusting the reader head on into a world of warfare and violence. Blood is spilt, heroes are felled, and the homeland of Rina, soon to be Dutches by virtue of her father’s murder, is overrun by the invading Parranese. Author Victor Gischler’s deep dive into the surreal results in a fast paced fantasy that envelops the reader in a fantastical shroud of magic, monsters and mystical lore from start to finish. Rina’s initial battle alongside the devastating viole INK MAGE opens in dramatic fashion, thrusting the reader head on into a world of warfare and violence. Blood is spilt, heroes are felled, and the homeland of Rina, soon to be Dutches by virtue of her father’s murder, is overrun by the invading Parranese. Author Victor Gischler’s deep dive into the surreal results in a fast paced fantasy that envelops the reader in a fantastical shroud of magic, monsters and mystical lore from start to finish. Rina’s initial battle alongside the devastating violent and protective Kork in the early stages of the book sets the tone for strong character development and provides a pathway cut through the meaty flesh of invaders towards her first tattoo, spawning the adventure and creating the legend. Double crosses and questionable allegiances ensue as Rina seeks help from all manner of unlikely sources to rid her homeland of its conquering guests (including gypsies). Aided by a likeable cast including Alem and Tosh, Victor Gischler ensures INK MAGE remains fresh by virtue of varying perspectives and allowing for respective telling of events through differing eyes. This allows for the blend of magic/warfare/and traditional fantasy quest elements to merge seamlessly into the broader tale. I had the luxury of reading INK MAGE as a single volume and I’m glad that was the case as the pace of story made for a quick read – in serial format, I would’ve been too impatient waiting for each instalment. I’m keen to see where Victor Gischler takes this series next.
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  • Marjolein
    January 1, 1970
    Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com Her city was never taken, until now. The last of her line, young Rina must flee and along the way is turned into an Ink Mage. With every tattoo she gains. she grows stronger... But her new powers come at a price.This was first published as an Amazon serial, but I just read the complete book at once. I'm however, not completely sure what to think of it. The story, for the biggest part, is quite standard and the magic is confusing. While Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com Her city was never taken, until now. The last of her line, young Rina must flee and along the way is turned into an Ink Mage. With every tattoo she gains. she grows stronger... But her new powers come at a price.This was first published as an Amazon serial, but I just read the complete book at once. I'm however, not completely sure what to think of it. The story, for the biggest part, is quite standard and the magic is confusing. While at first the magic systems seemed very interested, things are not really made clear. Not everyone can set these tattoos but how do the people who can learn this. At the end there they are very surprised to find not one but two Ink Mages, even though earlier in the book Rina meets with several of them.Since I also have the rest of the series, I will give them a try soon and hope things will become more clear there.Ink Mage is the first book of A Fire Beneath The Skin.Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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  • J.D.
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, we’ve got a pretty basic fantasy plot here: somewhat spoiled (but plucky) heir to the throne is betrayed, her family murdered, her kingdom (duchy, actually) conquered, and she ends up in exile, where she meets a mysterious old man who gives her the power to wreak her vengeance on her betrayers. She also assembles a ragtag crew of misfits, etc.The difference is, this well-used plot is brought to life this time by Victor Gischler, who cut his teeth writing some of the best hardboiled crime f Okay, we’ve got a pretty basic fantasy plot here: somewhat spoiled (but plucky) heir to the throne is betrayed, her family murdered, her kingdom (duchy, actually) conquered, and she ends up in exile, where she meets a mysterious old man who gives her the power to wreak her vengeance on her betrayers. She also assembles a ragtag crew of misfits, etc.The difference is, this well-used plot is brought to life this time by Victor Gischler, who cut his teeth writing some of the best hardboiled crime fiction EVER. So a plot that would take hundreds of pages to get going in the hands of your average fantasy writer moves along at the brisk pace of a pulp novel, which is refreshing. There’s no wasted time here. There's also plenty of blood and guts and swinging of swords, all rendered in clear, coherent, and pleasing fashion. There's room for a sequel, but the ending wraps up the story (unlike a lot of fantasy novels that leave you hanging to get you to buy the next overwritten bloated installment).Recommended.PS: if it matters, I read it in the final version, not as a serial.
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  • Kushnuma
    January 1, 1970
    I received an e-book copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Ink Mage is book 1 in the A Fire Beneath the Skin series. I really liked the main story line and liked the idea of ink magic, which is the only thing that stoppped me from putting down the book.
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  •  Simply Sam ツ
    January 1, 1970
    Alright, so here's the thing. This is probably really only a 3 star book (maybe even 2 star if I think about it too much). However, after reading the author's bio and realizing he received his PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi I had to show some love. Probably not the best way to rate a book, but hey, it's my rating so...Honestly, the book is not bad. It's just not great either. It's told from multiple POVs, and when I say multiple I mean like 6+. I'm not a huge fan of that writing Alright, so here's the thing. This is probably really only a 3 star book (maybe even 2 star if I think about it too much). However, after reading the author's bio and realizing he received his PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi I had to show some love. Probably not the best way to rate a book, but hey, it's my rating so...Honestly, the book is not bad. It's just not great either. It's told from multiple POVs, and when I say multiple I mean like 6+. I'm not a huge fan of that writing style so immediately I put my guard up going, "Hmmmm....I wonder what else is going to piss me off?" And I was not disappointed. As a matter of fact, several other things managed to join my little list of "things that annoyed me" with a big part of that being the magic system. Oh, the non-magical magic..(view spoiler)[I like a magic system in which the wielders have to work their asses off learning and honing their craft. Through hours and weeks and years of practice. Earned through sweat and blood, earned through toils and mishaps and triumphs. I like magic users who deserve the power they possess. Rina was made damn near invincible by the end of the book. "How?" you might ask yourself. Well, you see...she just walks in and asks for it. Expects it even. Ok. So sometimes people come by power in unexpected and unconventional ways. Like a spider bite. Or a tattoo. I get it. But surely after receiving these enchanted tattoos she will undergo a grueling internship, teaching her how to reach her full potential, molding her into a fine tuned magical weapon. Right? Um, no. Sorry to disappoint, but once she gets her suped up ink she just shuts her eyes and "Voila! Presto! Abba cadabra!" she's a bonafide magician/superhero, able to tap into immense power with a single thought. Oh. Were you expecting something different? Like a story of a girls struggle into power? Sorry. Apparently it's just really easy to become super human. In all fairness, I start to like her a teensy bit more towards the end of the story but I think it may be too little too late. (hide spoiler)]Aside from the magic, I don't think the characters were fleshed out enough, even for a first book in a series. I blame that partially on the jumping POVs. I did really like the idea behind (view spoiler)[the assassin prostitutes. (hide spoiler)] I think so much more could have done on that end but the writer again failed to fully bring about this conceptualization. Again, I'm blaming this grievance on the multi POV. Can you tell how much that irked me? So once again, I'm left reading a book (skimming the last 25%) where I keep hoping for redemption. I keep expecting something....well, something captivating and magical, something extraordinary that will leave me closing the book thinking, "Wow. I was not expecting that! Man, I'm so happy I finished it! " but instead I'm left with, "Well, really what did I expect? It was free with Kindle unlimited." Ho hum.
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  • Kelsea
    January 1, 1970
    I borrowed Ink Mage via the Amazon Prime library, so the only incremental cost to me was the time I spent reading it and having it count as my borrowed book for the month. I don't regret borrowing it, if that tells you anything, but I might have regretted spending money on it.I read this just a week and a half ago and it’s already a little hard to remember much about it. I guess that should tell you what I thought of this book. It contained nothing so negative as to inspire a passionate review a I borrowed Ink Mage via the Amazon Prime library, so the only incremental cost to me was the time I spent reading it and having it count as my borrowed book for the month. I don't regret borrowing it, if that tells you anything, but I might have regretted spending money on it.I read this just a week and a half ago and it’s already a little hard to remember much about it. I guess that should tell you what I thought of this book. It contained nothing so negative as to inspire a passionate review about its flaws, but nothing that made it particularly stand out, either. Here’s what I do remember.The magic system piqued my interest – tattoos that provide power. Nothing novel, but it did attract me - perhaps because I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo on-and-off for about five years now. I like it. Clean and simple, limited by how many mages have enough knowledge to ink the tattoos and what it costs them to do so.On the other hand, the characters felt a one-dimensional and unremarkable. Rina was not bad, if somewhat emotionless (I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume shell shock). Her companions were mediocre – the lovesick servant boy was forgettable and the jealous gypsy girl was annoying. The pompous noble boy was actually my favorite of her companions for the journey that spans most of the novel – at least he was entertaining at times.The whole separate Tosh plot line is just… odd. It doesn’t add much to the story – nor do any of the characters at the whorehouse he ends up living in.Overall, it felt like even though I was being told that things were happening, it still felt like barely anything happened. There was so little effort put into building up Rina’s (supposed) big magical rival that what I can only assume was intended to be an epic battle ended up being about as thrilling and heart-racing as watching a fly nibble on fruit.There were too many “coincidences”, too much obnoxiously superfluous sexual content, and far too many errors that should have been edited out, plus that whole overarching feel of “unremarkable”, to give Ink Mage anything more than two stars.Maybe I’m just holding out hope because of my attachment to the magical-ability-providing tattoos, but I do think that with some polishing, a little more character depth, and many more rounds of editing, this could be the start to an interesting series. I might consider borrowing the next book in the series, but I definitely wouldn't spend money on it.
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  • Raluca
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I seem to have misspelled the named due to the fact that I listened to the audiobook and was to lazy to do a proper research firstI liked most of it, I liked the premise of the story (tattoos that give you magical powers, hello?!!!) but I just wasn't all that into it to be curious enough to read the next installments as well. Maybe one day, who knows. Well the story follows three somewhat separate storylines if characters whose destinies intertwine. First if all we have Rena, the orp Disclaimer: I seem to have misspelled the named due to the fact that I listened to the audiobook and was to lazy to do a proper research firstI liked most of it, I liked the premise of the story (tattoos that give you magical powers, hello?!!!) but I just wasn't all that into it to be curious enough to read the next installments as well. Maybe one day, who knows. Well the story follows three somewhat separate storylines if characters whose destinies intertwine. First if all we have Rena, the orphaned duchess who must start on a quest to find all the mages that can give her the tattoos she needs in order to save her duchy from being overtaken by a foreign army. At the same time she unknowingly provokes this other mage that is on a quest to collect the tattoos for selfish reasons only. Even if Rena did not have the character development that a figure in such a role should have had, I feel like the way she was shaped was indeed interesting and after all her character doesn't really have time for much development in that sense because she needs to become this super powerful mage in order to save her people and along the way she becomes a pretty tough woman, though not much of a duchess. She's not in this battle alone, she has Alam, the head stable boy who cannot help but fall in love with the woman Rena has become and follows her faithfully in order to help her on her quest and simply be there for her whenever she needs someone by her side. I thought that was pretty cool. Then there are two more characters which I quite enjoyed. Brazely, your typical bad boy who fights along the good side because it fits him so. And Tosh, who I think had a good story arch, turning away from his soldier duties only to fall back on his meager skills when time comes to help protect those he loves and I'm not saying that he goes back into fighting but that he helps train the company girls at the wounded bird who join in the fight against the polinesian army.So all in all there wasn't much of a story and it dwindled a lot due to the fact that it was split in two pov, the final battles were more smoke than fire, but the characters made it worthwhile.
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  • Alatea
    January 1, 1970
    2,5*I really liked the idea that ink tattoos were some kind mediators between the wizard and the "spirit" and allowed to "tap" into the spirit and use magic. That would be so cool, wouldn't it?!However, the easiness with which the tattoos were acquired, the fact that Rina was for no reason the only one who had it so easy and the fact in general that she just got lucky and met right people at right time kinda weighted it down.Now about things that I didn't like:- one-dimensional characters,- very 2,5*I really liked the idea that ink tattoos were some kind mediators between the wizard and the "spirit" and allowed to "tap" into the spirit and use magic. That would be so cool, wouldn't it?!However, the easiness with which the tattoos were acquired, the fact that Rina was for no reason the only one who had it so easy and the fact in general that she just got lucky and met right people at right time kinda weighted it down.Now about things that I didn't like:- one-dimensional characters,- very basic and hardly believable love story,- sex scenes that felt kinda odd and out of place,- coinsidences, coinsidences, coinsidences,- running from one scene to another,- the world, which might have been interesting as an idea, but felt more like a mess, because we got very little of it and only when it was necessary for the story.
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  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!Ink Mage is the story of Rina Veraiin and her struggles with the letter I. Just kidding... and her struggle to reclaim her duchy from an invading army. She vows revenge against the (one-note) bad guy(s) who took it from her but she's just a girl, how is she going to accomplish this? Enter: tattoo magic system!Apparently, this book was originally released as a Kindle Serial but I received the full story all a I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!Ink Mage is the story of Rina Veraiin and her struggles with the letter I. Just kidding... and her struggle to reclaim her duchy from an invading army. She vows revenge against the (one-note) bad guy(s) who took it from her but she's just a girl, how is she going to accomplish this? Enter: tattoo magic system!Apparently, this book was originally released as a Kindle Serial but I received the full story all at once, which I was grateful for, because the action started right away and hooked me until I was finished. Instant gratification is the best, am I right?The characterizations in this weren't the best- the bad guy was just a grouchy dude who wanted power and sex... that was it. I like my bad guys to have layers like Tywin Lannister. The world building left something to be desired as well. We breezed through multiple towns but didn't experience much of the changing cultures or landscapes beyond fighting over a well in a desert-y place and a very brief bar fight in another.Strangely enough, my favorite character in this was Brasley, the drunken, gambler noble who goes ahead of Rina to the capital to try to secure her an introduction to the king. I wanted to read more about his machiavellian maneuverings and delicate (or not-so-delicate) "social climbing."The magic system was easily the best part of this book. It reminded me of the Iron Druid Chronicles in that Rina gets her powers through her body art but, unlike the Iron Druid, she isn't limited to earth magic. She can cast whatever spell is linked to the art. The possibilities are infinite!I would definitely read another book in this series. Despite some complaints about the characterizations and world, the pace was excellent and I am interested to see where Gischler takes this magic system. Fans of the Iron Druid Chronicles may enjoy this.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    2.5ish starsThe city of Klaar has never fallen. No enemy has crossed the Long Bridge or penetrated the city’s great walls. No one could have foreseen the betrayal from within the fortress’s walls. After a dramatic turn of events, the young duke’s daughter, Rina, finds herself a duchess and an army of one. Rina sets out on a quest to reclaim her city through whatever means necessary, even if that includes strange magic inked on to her skin.I had mixed feelings while reading. There were huge gaps 2.5ish starsThe city of Klaar has never fallen. No enemy has crossed the Long Bridge or penetrated the city’s great walls. No one could have foreseen the betrayal from within the fortress’s walls. After a dramatic turn of events, the young duke’s daughter, Rina, finds herself a duchess and an army of one. Rina sets out on a quest to reclaim her city through whatever means necessary, even if that includes strange magic inked on to her skin.I had mixed feelings while reading. There were huge gaps in the story because the POV changed every chapter. I felt like we missed a lot of the story when we switched characters and it just made the story's sense of time more confusing. I didn't care for a few characters and felt disconnected. I was indifferent to the romance! That is a downer. ): A story with multiple POV is usually a hit of miss. I think this story could have benefits from more chapters from Rina. It was spread so thin amongst the characters that I lacked the kinship with the characters. We didn't really get very deep into the characters; it was all surface. What is driving the characters; why do they fight for the cause?There were other gaps in the story that just seemed random. Like when did Alem learn to shoot a bow? There is freakin no way he was able to hit a target on his first try! When/How did this romance start to develop? It seemed a bit random.I'm not so sure I'll be continuing the series because I have so many books on my TBR.
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  • Gillian Murrell
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 An interesting book with multi POV's that did get a bit confusing at times hence the 3.5. I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes in the next few books as this was really just the beginning. I'm not a big fan of all these books that get split up into small books when they really could quiet easily have been written as one. It's all about the $ i guess. I would like to point out this is not suitable for a young YA book. Lots of blood a gore, plenty of fighting throw in some rape s 3.5 An interesting book with multi POV's that did get a bit confusing at times hence the 3.5. I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes in the next few books as this was really just the beginning. I'm not a big fan of all these books that get split up into small books when they really could quiet easily have been written as one. It's all about the $ i guess. I would like to point out this is not suitable for a young YA book. Lots of blood a gore, plenty of fighting throw in some rape scenes, a little romance and to round it off with some magic if you are lucky enough to have been give some unique tattoos.
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  • Karla
    January 1, 1970
    The first chapter had me hooked. Though the middle of the book did plateau out. A very entertaining book, the story line was good, the odd curse here and there (where needed), a couple of mild sex scenes, loads of fighting and action with a bit of gore, and not to forget to mention magic! Yes, this book really did hit the spot. Looking forward to book 2.
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    1 December 2014: $1.99 on Kindle
  • Akan Michael
    January 1, 1970
    This is my kind of book...strong female lead but...too many sexscenes seriously...(reason for the 2 star)
  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    An army is invading the land. Rina Veralin and her parents, the duke and duchess of Klaar, believe their city is safe. This force, however, is cruel and cunning and despite centuries of safety the city falls. Rina, who has received warrior training all her life, manages to escape with the help of her bodyguard and trainer Kork.Wanting the city returned and also desiring revenge, Rina and Kork seek out an ancient ink mage, a practitioner of magic whose power is from unique tattoos. Near death, th An army is invading the land. Rina Veralin and her parents, the duke and duchess of Klaar, believe their city is safe. This force, however, is cruel and cunning and despite centuries of safety the city falls. Rina, who has received warrior training all her life, manages to escape with the help of her bodyguard and trainer Kork.Wanting the city returned and also desiring revenge, Rina and Kork seek out an ancient ink mage, a practitioner of magic whose power is from unique tattoos. Near death, the ink mage creates a magical design on Rina giving her tremendous power, the first of several she'll receive.There are others with their own unique body art and powers, and at least two are on the side of Rina's enemies. Now Rina must gather together a small force to take back Klaar, with the hope that her magic will be powerful enough.Rina is a wonderfully heroic character, and her magical powers turn her into a killing whirlwind as she leads the group to try to take Klaar back. Even so, using magical powers takes a toll on the user, and Gischler allows Rina to be a powerhouse but with some frailties that make it a fun nailbiter to the very end. She's surrounded by a group which has several who are completely loyal to Rina, and some others that have suspicious motives. This sets up some challenges for the next volume The Tattooed Duchess. This is fun and light reading with a good cast of characters and well-written action.This first volume of A Fire Beneath the Skin was originally serialized on Amazon, now collected into the first of three books.
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  • Fluffy
    January 1, 1970
    Hmm... Where to start with this? I'll start with the ending.I read this on Kindle and on the last page after the end of the book there was a page (advert?) stating that this book was a Kindle Series book - something I'd never heard of before. This explained why it was separated into chunks called episodes, which confused me to no end while reading.This release in parts explains why the book seriously lacks flow but I will be stubborn and not let that excuse it as there could have been better edi Hmm... Where to start with this? I'll start with the ending.I read this on Kindle and on the last page after the end of the book there was a page (advert?) stating that this book was a Kindle Series book - something I'd never heard of before. This explained why it was separated into chunks called episodes, which confused me to no end while reading.This release in parts explains why the book seriously lacks flow but I will be stubborn and not let that excuse it as there could have been better editing involved in bringing them together into a full novel.So back to the beginning, The main idea in this book is brilliant and I loved the themes and settings. However, the beginning of the book is incredibly rushed and I got very little impression of the setting and characters before they're thrown into turmoil. This is frustrating as I then can't connect with the characters and it gives me no reference to see their growth throughout the story.After they are in the thick of it the story is good and events are interesting. However (oh dear), we seldom actually get a glimpse of characters feelings and thoughts. It's all very observational in it's descriptions, which is good, but then characters aren't really given much time so, again, you don't see their growth or motive.The ending was the worst. It was like the author suddenly realised the deadline was due and finished things off in 5 pages. It took the already disconnected flow of the book and completely chopped it up further. It's painfully sporadic and disconnected. The ending deserved to be so much more. The main fight at the end was especially disappointing and anti-climatic.The worst, though, is the time jumps. Days and weeks are skipped and it ruins the story line and makes it all very sporadic. This is within the episodes so that can't even be used as the excuse..The only reason I'm even thinking of going to the next book is I'm intrigued by the setting of the characters and what will happen next but I'm very concerned for the quality of the story-line.That's all just me though.
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  • Maggie
    January 1, 1970
    100% NOT a young adult novel and,110% a strong female lead that's definitely written by a man.It's not something I would reccomend, but the story itself is a neat idea. I'm not sure if I will finish the series, and after reading reviews for the second book I've been leaning towards not. The first installment ends on a solid enough note for me to be satisfied without continuing the series.There's quite a few sex scenes throughout the story, and quite a lot of focus on breasts (I believe at one po 100% NOT a young adult novel and,110% a strong female lead that's definitely written by a man.It's not something I would reccomend, but the story itself is a neat idea. I'm not sure if I will finish the series, and after reading reviews for the second book I've been leaning towards not. The first installment ends on a solid enough note for me to be satisfied without continuing the series.There's quite a few sex scenes throughout the story, and quite a lot of focus on breasts (I believe at one point the author describes one woman's as 'glistening in lamplight'). Most, but not all, of the battle scenes are pretty anti-climatic and dry.I would have given it only two stars, but there are some very creative ideas the author makes use of for the story and has built a lush world for it to take place in, so I added an extra star.
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  • Jersh
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to enjoy this book more due to the magic system.The characters are about as uninteresting as the world the author has created for them. The only interesting character is barely relevant to the plot, however I am grateful for his chapters as they are the only ones where any world-building or character development happen. It is unsurprising that the other characters had no real purpose in the story as the protagonist becomes some form of all powerful superhero from near the beginni I really wanted to enjoy this book more due to the magic system.The characters are about as uninteresting as the world the author has created for them. The only interesting character is barely relevant to the plot, however I am grateful for his chapters as they are the only ones where any world-building or character development happen. It is unsurprising that the other characters had no real purpose in the story as the protagonist becomes some form of all powerful superhero from near the beginning of the book; her weaknesses are never at risk of being exploited and, at the very disappointing finish to the book when it looks like she may actually be affected by the limitations of the powers she has been given, the costs of the magic are ignored.
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  • Jamies
    January 1, 1970
    Glad I used a promo codeI got this and three other books thanks to a promo code. I was intrigued by the story and who doesn't want to see a young woman come into her own with as a strong ruler. Not disappointed with the characters although Marizaun* could mature a bit. She's gonna be a problem if not. Starting next book now.
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  • Maddie B🐱📚🐰
    January 1, 1970
    GoodThis was a enjoyable read. I really loved the World and the details of it and the characters but holy shit did this have blood and gore and swearing and sex.
  • Liana Smith Bautista | Will Read for Feels
    January 1, 1970
    *** I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review, which was originally published on book blog Will Read for Feels.I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tattooed warriors since I first read about the Picts in middle school European history class and then later as my interest in Celtic mythology grew. So I was pretty keen to see how Victor Gischler interpreted the tradition i *** I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review, which was originally published on book blog Will Read for Feels.I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tattooed warriors since I first read about the Picts in middle school European history class and then later as my interest in Celtic mythology grew. So I was pretty keen to see how Victor Gischler interpreted the tradition in his fantasy-adventure Ink Mage, the first in his A Fire Beneath the Skin series.In the initial chapters of the book, I found myself struggling to get into it. I usually find I engage with a book more quickly when I can get behind at least one character, and I found that the head hopping in the first part of the story made it difficult to do that, especially because the characters’ flaws are immediately apparent and their virtues somewhat less so. My first impressions of the characters were as follows: Tosh is not particularly brave or honorable, Alem seems sullen and lacks complexity, and Rina seems spoiled and way too immature for the only child and heir to a duchy, even though she’s a year from reaching legal maturity.Eventually, I adjusted to the rhythm of the story telling. I learned later that this book was initially released in increments, and I have to wonder how it would have affected my reading experience had I read this at the pace at which it was first published. It was at this point where Rina started to gain some strength as a character—when virtually everything she had to her advantage was stripped from her. Still, I thought she seemed a little aimless, doing as she was told but not really taking a stand for herself; supposedly, she wants to take back her birthright, but for much of the novel, she has no plan beyond acquiring more tattoos and, as a result, more power. At this point, it felt like she was very much a little girl still, despite all she had endured. I’m not sure if that was the intention (especially knowing that there are two more books in this series), but it didn’t help endear her to me.I found myself more intrigued by her foes and by the supporting characters than I was by her and the other two protagonists of this tale. Mother, Brint Talbun the wizard, and Klarissa the gypsy are all admirable characters as they are strong women of power and action and show hints of flaws-turned-to-strengths as well as wisdom borne of life’s hard knocks.I felt the last part of the book went quite a way toward redeeming the earlier chapters. Rina comes into her own, having realized that her lack of planning could only lead to failure, and that if she wants her duchy back, she must take action and start making her own decisions. I guess the bit of annoyance I felt was because I could tell that the character pretty much knew this all along, on some level, given all she did to amp up her magic. But she shouldn’t have needed the wake up call she got before finding her spine.The final few chapters are actually completely action-packed, and while you don’t end the book feeling like everything is resolved and tied up in a neat little bow (which is a good thing), you do get a happy ending—not a happily-ever-after, perhaps, but certainly a happy-for-now. Better yet, there are hints of the challenges the characters will have to face in the coming novels, and by the end of the story, Tosh, Alem, and Rina have grown sufficiently as characters that you feel a kind of affection for them, in part because they still remain flawed but show so much potential. Which can only mean there’s a lot of room for growth in the next book and the one after that!
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