Overview: Virgil McDane is a sorcerer, a down-and-out, magical working stiff just trying to pay the bills and get by one crappy job at a time. It’s a tough life, but it’s the only one Virgil has, though things didn’t always used to be that way. Once upon a time, and way back when, Virgil was much, much more: a hotshot wizard, working with one of the biggest guilds in the world. But all that changed after a mission went south and he burned an entire world right to the ground; after that, the Guild cast him out, broke his staff, and robbed him of his mind—stealing his memories, and magical knowhow in the process.
But when a unique magical phenomena lands right in Virgil’s backyard, he finally has the chance he needs to get back what he lost. Pending, of course, that he survives the terrible mission to come. Working with a crack team of explores, Virgil will have to trek across the globe, piecing together mystic clues and battling back arcane threats, and if he fails it’ll be end game for everyone.
The MC: Virgil is your typical noir, urban fantasy main-character, but for all of that I love the guy. Though he was formally with the Wizards Guild, he’s been cast out and his powers have mostly been taken away, leaving him only a shadow of what he once was. Virgil really is an underdog, fighting far outside his weight class, and having to constantly rely on wits and dirty tricks to keep the baddies from punching his ticket. He’s got an awfully big chip on his shoulder (understandably so), is often brash, and many times acts without thinking, but the guy has a good heart and generally keeps his head on straight. I like Virgil and look forward to spending more time with him in future books.
The World: As much as I enjoyed Virgil, the world building is what really hit it out of the park for me. The world is similar to our own in many ways—though I get the sense that technologically they are a few decades behind—but also vastly different. In this world the most precious and valuable resource available is the Aether: clouds of magical energy that can contain entire worlds or different dimensions. Wizards, and those like them, can breathe in the Aether, the essence of these other worlds, and then transport that magic back into the “real” world—shaping it and forming it according their will. I thought the world building was inventive and the magic system quite intriguing, there is definitely a lot of possibility there.
The Story and Writing: The story itself was interesting; there’s a magical mystery to solve, a few old axes to grind, and truckloads full of baddies to fight through. There was nothing blow-your-mind-original about the plot line, but it was enjoyable to read and held a few twists and surprises I didn’t see coming. There are quite a few fun side characters, and the world building and character backstory are woven quite nicely into the tale while avoiding the “info” dump. As for the writing itself: there were a few typos, but nothing that substantially detracts from the story. I really enjoyed Mr. Sisk’s prose—the guy can spin a pretty good tale—and I think the more he writes, the better it’ll get.
The Rating: For me, 4 ½ Stars. Buy it here: www.Amazon.com/dp/B00EGIC3MK