Magic-Price (The Crown of Stones, #1)

Magic-Price (The Crown of Stones, #1)Magic-Price by C.L. Schneider
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“With great power, comes great responsibility”, is a well-acclaimed phrase attributed to spider-man. But this is a universal truth, applicable to all the people who toy with power. If the power is not used wisely, it will lead to chaos and destruction and we end up paying a heavy price. This forms the crux of this fast-paced, gripping fantasy novel from C.L. Schneider.
Plagued by his own past, a handsome warrior and a magician, Ian Troy, forces himself into self-exile to escape from his own power. He belongs to Shinree, a fallen race, scorned for their innate addiction to magic. Shinree are drugged to forget their power and enslaved to curb their usage of magic at free will. Ian grows up as a warrior and a soldier in the kingdom of Rella, whose queen looks upon magic as a bane. But when the barbaric Langorians engage in a fierce, gory battle with Rella, Ian is forced to use a powerful magical weapon to end the war. This entails heavy destruction, leading to a complete wipeout of armies on both sides.
Crestfallen by the damage he has caused, Ian lives in exile, succumbing to alcohol and women, to escape his own obsession with magic. But after a decade, he is confronted with a series of bizarre events that compel him to embrace magic again. An unknown powerful force has joined hands with his deadly Langorian enemy, and together they are uprooting empires. Rella, the kingdom to which Ian had pledged himself to, is in ramshackle and the current queen is in jeopardy. This powerful force aims to break Ian’s will and forces him to use magic, for reasons unknown. Ian is challenged at every step, subjected to physical and emotional torture through spells, both ancient and powerful. He has no other choice, but to invoke his own magical prowess, to tackle this omniscient sinister force.
In his quest to find his enemy, Ian encounters many people, none whom he can completely trust. He uses his instincts to the best of his abilities but finds himself misled and trapped in a magical labyrinth. The traps are set at every point and the magic runs thick and deep. Finally, when he unravels the mystery, layer by layer, he comes face-to-face with the hidden murky truth, which shakes the very foundation of the principles on which he had laid his life. The truth is nowhere close to what he had believed it to be. As the thin lines between right and wrong grow dim, Ian attempts to close down on the very source of magic which is causing this devastation. And as the burden of the power falls on his shoulders, he has to pay a heavy price, yet again.
The book is very fast-paced and manages to keep the reader engaged and hooked to the plot. The spells are very imaginative, and with each spell, the plot deepens. Both the friendships and the enmity run deep and it gets difficult to decipher the illusion from reality. The twists and turns last until the very end of the book, and it leaves the reader wanting more.
The only qualm, which I have is the portrayal of women in this book. All women are condemned and derogated. In particular, there are two powerful female protagonists, who demand a well-respected standing in the plot. But on the contrary, either willingly or tossed as a bait, they find themselves as objects of physical desire to the men. Though the author ties up the loose ends in the end and clears the air behind their intentions, I wish there could have been another way, that they were also addressed as noble and treated with some respect.
But with the sequels following, I am hoping that this impression will be erased and the women get their due credits.
Leaving this aside, it is a brilliant piece of work by the author. I could not put the book down and I am looking forward to reading the sequel.

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