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Mage Against the Machine (2018)

by Shaun Barger

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421484,592 (3.25)1
Harry Potter meets The Terminator in this action-packed adventure about a young man who discovers that everything he believed about his world is a lie. The year is 2120. The humans are dead. The mages have retreated from the world after a madman blew up civilization with weaponized magical technology. Safe within domes that protect them from the nuclear wasteland on the other side, the mages have spent the last century putting their lives back together. Nikolai is obsessed with artifacts from twentieth-century human life: mage-crafted replica Chuck Taylors on his feet, Schwarzenegger posters on his walls, Beatlemania still alive and well in his head. But he's also tasked with a higher calling--to maintain the Veils that protect mage-kind from the hazards of the wastes beyond. As a cadet in the Mage King's army, Nik has finally found what he always wanted--a purpose. But when confronted by one of his former instructors gone rogue, Nik tumbles into a dark secret. The humans weren't nuked into oblivion--they're still alive. Not only that, outside the domes a war rages between the last enclaves of free humans and vast machine intelligences. Outside the dome, unprepared and on the run, Nik finds Jem. Jem is a Runner for the Human Resistance. A ballerina-turned-soldier by the circumstances of war, Jem is more than just a human--her cybernetic enhancement mods make her faster, smarter, and are the only things that give her a fighting chance against the artificial beings bent on humanity's eradication. Now Nik faces an impossible decision: side with the mages and let humanity die out? Or stand with Jem and the humans--and risk endangering everything he knows and loves?… (more)
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The idea is great, but the actual product is less so. 500 pages spent largely with a completely unlikable protagonist in a world that doesn't really hold up to close scrutiny was just way too much. It doesn't help that the author's influences are very present on the page and that this is apparently the first in a series. In so many ways this book had the potential to really excite me and become a favorite and instead it became a slog that I kept hoping would redeem itself. Sadly, for me, it just felt like the author throwing all the things they love on the page with the result being over-long and rather messy. I wanted to love it, but it just didn't work for me. ( )
  BillieBook | Nov 20, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shaun Bargerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Manev, MarkoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Harry Potter meets The Terminator in this action-packed adventure about a young man who discovers that everything he believed about his world is a lie. The year is 2120. The humans are dead. The mages have retreated from the world after a madman blew up civilization with weaponized magical technology. Safe within domes that protect them from the nuclear wasteland on the other side, the mages have spent the last century putting their lives back together. Nikolai is obsessed with artifacts from twentieth-century human life: mage-crafted replica Chuck Taylors on his feet, Schwarzenegger posters on his walls, Beatlemania still alive and well in his head. But he's also tasked with a higher calling--to maintain the Veils that protect mage-kind from the hazards of the wastes beyond. As a cadet in the Mage King's army, Nik has finally found what he always wanted--a purpose. But when confronted by one of his former instructors gone rogue, Nik tumbles into a dark secret. The humans weren't nuked into oblivion--they're still alive. Not only that, outside the domes a war rages between the last enclaves of free humans and vast machine intelligences. Outside the dome, unprepared and on the run, Nik finds Jem. Jem is a Runner for the Human Resistance. A ballerina-turned-soldier by the circumstances of war, Jem is more than just a human--her cybernetic enhancement mods make her faster, smarter, and are the only things that give her a fighting chance against the artificial beings bent on humanity's eradication. Now Nik faces an impossible decision: side with the mages and let humanity die out? Or stand with Jem and the humans--and risk endangering everything he knows and loves?

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