on Oct. 31, 2012 :
MageSign is the sequel to RealmShift and while it could be read stand alone for the enjoyment factor, you will miss a whole mess of back story and the surprises and resolutions of parts of the first novel will be lost on you, so trot on over and read it first.
Done? Good. This book picks up a few years after the conclusion of RealmShift when walking tank Isiah finally finds some time to check out the mysterious sorcerer mentioned in the first book. What follows is another dark action-packed divine-plagued battle of order vs chaos.
Magic is expanded upon, as is the cast of divine characters as Isiah attempts to track down both the sorcerer and disturbing signs of a rapidly rising evil god. Allies and enemies are souped-up as you would expect in a sequel and there is one dirty great link to the first book that I am still annoyed I didn't pick earlier. This book felt quite separate to the first before that bombshell was dropped.
There seemed to be a bit of an inconsistency in the continuity of Samuel Harrigan's association with the sorcerer from the first book, but perhaps he was just lying and playing it down for Isiah's benefit (if you'd read the first book untruths probably aren't a great stretch for him). I was also a little disappointed when the baddies got the better of Isiah (which had to happen at some point, so that's no spoiler) because it seemed like too ordinary a way to accomplish this, however they do say that surprise is the greatest weapon in any battle, and Isiah's first conversation when he wakes up is a classic.
Out of the two books, I think I most enjoyed the explanations of the whole belief system and the nature of gods (really just another niche feeder), as well as the underlying theme of maintaining Balance (rather than just doing good) meant that ANY character was potentially in the firing line.
Bottom line: if you liked the first one and the violence and general nastiness didn't faze you, check this one out as well. I'd love to see some more sequels starring Isiah kicking the innards out of some more stuff (There is a short story at http://www.infinitas.com.au/Stories/StandOff.php but that's all I know of) although I can't see the baddies and crises escalating much more. It'd just be nice to see him again in his element.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
on Nov. 27, 2009 :
I read RealmShift and enjoyed it immensely, so I jumped straight into MageSign for some more Isiah.
I loved both books! I shivered whenever a realmshift happened and I was running alongside the characters throughout the book. To be there sharing in their adventures was truly being 'lost in a book' - my favourite way to pass time.
Alan, you made me gasp out loud at one part and I couldn't stop reading until I'd worked through that story line. It was awful, it was astonishing, it was heart-breaking and it was wonderful to read. Thanks for that sleepless night.
This book was totally engrossing reading and I couldn't wait to get home from work each day to dip back into your world. I felt sad when I finished. I want more.
I intend to search for everything written by Alan Baxter and devour it.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on July 15, 2009 :
MageSign is set several years after RealmShift and picks off on an interesting tangent from the previous book. Once again, we are exposed to the extremely unwilling hero Isiah and his other-worldly strength, lore and contacts. Once again there is a fast-paced escalating showdown, but with higher stakes and involving the world on a grander scale.
The novel is a welcome dip back into an exciting world where supernatural forces compete for followers and secret societies scheme for power -- all behind a generally-oblivious public. But I think what makes this book more enjoyable to read than most that cover similar ground is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact it blurs the line between the genre and the genre's parody, which is always a good thing.
MageSign makes for some very smooth, engrossing reading with masterful pacing. Like a graphic novel without the graphics it'll really get you into the action within a heartbeat.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on July 12, 2009 :
After 3 years it would good to catch up with Isiah again. 3 years to a guy who is centuries old is an afternoon nap but there’s still been enough time in between for him to shake off his last big battle and resume the search for the ultimate root of all evil.
The thing that taunts Isiah though is he knows its not a battle that requires the annihilation of all that is evil as thats just not how ‘The Balance’ works. I love the concept of The Balance. Essentially there is a place for everything and everyone, good, evil or neutral and as long as there is an overall balance of those concepts, humanity is able to survive and thrive – Upset the balance and you tip the scales in favour of one side and that side can then take advantage, rise up and take ‘free will’ away from the world. THIS is what drives Isiah more than anything – Well, its what drives ‘The Balance’ he is their personal soldier in the war on keeping things in check.
An essential point that RealmShift made still rings very true in Magesign and that is that everyone has the choice to believe in what they wish and if enough people believe in something, it will come true. So the eternal conundrum is that if Humanity really is in charge of its own fate then it's completely up to us to do what we believe is right since we create everything ourselves.
With that in mind, everything gets amplified in Magesign. The Balance shift is bigger, the baddies are badder, Isiah even more pissed at the Balance for making him do its dirty work and the events are colossal. A few new concepts are introduced, namely the use of Magic and the fact that Isiah may not necessarily be alone in his quest to bring things back from the brink.
The character development is very strong as the book progresses. Some of them you love and some you most certainly love to hate, but ultimately you find that you can relate to every single person in the book as they all display traits that are within us all – Although most of us have the ability to keep from acting on those impulses..
There has been an emerging trend lately of pacing books at the speed of an all out sprint from the opening scene – Magesign is no different – Alan Baxter has an ability to write a book with such visual capabilities that its like you are reading a movie – Each chapter is a scene within itself so it does feel like you are watching a movie unfold scene by scene – It does make it a little jumpy at times especially if you go a few days reading a chapter at a time as you will find yourself back tracking a bit to remember what happened but once your back on deck, its flat out until the apocalyptic finale.
Australian readers will love the local geographical references as you chase the story around Sydney and into the outback but there is plenty of international jet setting too!
Overall, Magesign is an excellent conclusion to the Realmshift saga although I couldn’t rule out a possible third instalment being possible – Alan would have to go deep to out-do Magesign’s finale, but Im sure he could!
(reviewed the day of purchase)