The Other Magic

Book 1 of Passage to Dawn

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
636 Pages
Reviewed on 11/23/2019
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Author Biography

Derrick Smythe has been fascinated with all things elvish, dwarvish, and magical since his days of running through the woods with sharpened sticks in defense of whatever fortification he and his brothers had built that summer. After consuming nearly every fantasy book he could find, he was driven to begin work on one of his own. When he isn’t dreaming up new stories, he can be spotted hiking the Adirondack Mountains or traveling the world. He currently resides near his hometown in Upstate New York with his enchanting wife, ethereal daughters, and his faithful-if-neurotic Australian Shepherd, Magnus.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite

A sudden awakening of magical powers that coincides with a prophesied sign mark a twelve-year-old slave, Kibure, as the agent of a dark god in Derrick Smythe’s thought-provoking epic fantasy, The Other Magic. Shackled, gagged, and caged, it seems death is the only outcome for Kibure when Sindri, the renegade priestess hired to sever Kibure’s magical ability, is unable to do so. However, Sindri has reasons of her own for wanting to keep Kibure alive and convinces his master instead to take Kibure to the Eastern Markets and sell him there. Meanwhile, Magog, the god-king of Angolia, charges high priest Grobennar with finding and destroying the dark god’s emissary as part of the preparations for the prophesied Purge.

An exhilarating and unpredictable plot combined with steady pacing in The Other Magic makes for addictive reading in The Other Magic, book one of debut author Smythe’s Passage to Dawn series. Smythe masterfully conveys the more complex elements of world-building through legends and myths mentioned within The Other Magic. Spoilt Prince Aynward’s tertiary education allows for a fascinating intellectual exploration of the perceived ties between magic and religion and how this applies when every faith’s followers consider their institution and the deities they observe to be the one true faith. This also provides a stimulating thematic link to Kibure’s trials and the purposefully warped perspective on good and evil displayed by the god-king and Klerol priests. The Other Magic is an exciting epic fantasy debut with an invigorating, mentally stimulating thematic premise that will delight YA and adult readers alike.

K.C. Finn

The Other Magic is an extensive, immersive work of epic fantasy fiction, and was penned by author Derrick Smythe. Forming the first part of the Passage to Dawn series, the story begins this stylish magical adventure in the world of Doréa, where Empires, Unions, and City-States are spread across two continents separated by the Glass Sea. Kibure is a slave boy who discovers there is something unusual about his energy, and accidentally casts a forbidden magical force against his master. When Kibure is sentenced to death, he meets a fellow oddball trying to flee the land: the disgraced priestess Sindri. And far on the other side of the world is the third hero who will cross their paths in time, the very royal Prince Aynward, whose family believe he is an embarrassment to them and must grow into a better version of himself.

Author Derrick Smythe has created a realistic yet truly magical world that readers from teens upwards can totally immerse themselves in. There are many of the classic elements that traditional fantasy fans will be looking for, including large ensemble casts, political systems of royalty, heritage and religion, slaves and masters with cruel hierarchies of class, and, of course, magic and magical lore. Smythe brings complexity and a convincing commitment to all of these, working hard to make Doréa as real for his audience as possible, and as a result, this truly epic-length book becomes a deep immersion in an incredible other world. Though there are many well fleshed out characters throughout the tale, its central trio of troublemakers is delightful and emotive, with a slightly distanced narration that helps us watch and empathize with them without getting overly emotional. I particularly enjoyed the chancer Aynward and his dangerous experiences when he was left to his own devices. Overall, The Other Magic marks an incredible start to a fantasy series that established fans of the genre will be totally absorbed by, and for newcomers there would be no better place to start.