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Hand of Mars carries forward the story of Mage Damien Montgomery, in a unique and imaginative universe. The original story, available as either an omnibus or in 5 discrete parts, sets the stage for what is an already excellent story and gives it the potential to become a true sci-fi classic.
For those who have not yet enjoyed the "Starship'sMage" story: go check it out, it really is an excellent read, a really enjoyable story. For those who have, Hand of Mars evolves this story in interesting new ways. We get to see a bigger political picture and understand, in important detail, the dynamics, challenges and opportunities of the relationship between the colonies/systems and the Mage King of Mars. We also get to see, in an extremely well-written way, how Damien evolves from being a Mage-On-The-Run to one of the Mage King's trusted advisors [or Hands]. We start to see and understand a little bit more of the resources available to a Hand, not least of which are their own stupefying abilities, and the benefits and frustrations that come from wielding that incredibly power.
Stewart tells this story thoughtfully, at least in part from the outlook of this young, idealistic but ultimately honourable Mage, giving us a story that is dramatic, thoughtful and entertaining in equal measure. His writing style is engaging and thoughtful and [a few minor grammatical and/or transcription errors aside] is pleasurable fun to read. Whilst uniquely his own, this approach is as engaging and easy-to-read as, for example, "The Belgariad" by David Eddings [and I know of no higher praise than that]...
If there is a single [unkind] criticism to make of "Hand of Mars", then it would be it's brevity... It's an excellent if shortish story, perhaps more a novella than a novel. But take that for what it is - a wistful thought from an appreciative reader who would have very much liked to read even more about Damien's exploits. But that is not to diminish the quality or imagination of this work, both of which are excellent.
Stewart has hit upon a winning formula here - a unique but interesting take on the science fiction genre; some interesting characters that are growing and developing right before the reader's eye, plus some well-paced, well-written and interesting story-telling. I for one can't wait for the next installment...
The first series had a charm of something old re-imagined as something new. I was both looking forward to this book and worried that my expectations would not be met.
I was met with complete amazement when the characters exploded into life as I read it, showing a darker and more violent and realistic side of this world that the author has created, which stands at a stark opposite to the naïve and idealistic viewpoint that the characters portrayed in the first series. It made it grittier and made me more inclined to yell at my book "Oh come on just knock him down a few pegs!....YES THATS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!" I thoroughly enjoyed this, and if I had to point a flaw out it would be that the book was too short for my liking. Looking forward to the continuation of this amazing series! Keep it up!!
This story was very slow to start with any great intrigue or excitement and i think the author missed a trick there, the story jumping some years forward from the first Volume and almost grinding to a halt in the process. What about the young Mage's training; surely that was worthy of more than a couple of paragraphs? Anyway it finally lifted-off and came good towards the end. I like this genre and style of story but this could have been so much better - seemed rushed-out
the action is fast and furious. if you like demons, werewolves and vampire stories then you may like this. It's okay, but was very disappointed at the end of book that the hero got the sword of kill everything-it's a cop out.