Title: The Magician’s Ward
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Mairelon #2
It’s been a year since Kim accepted an apprenticeship with Richard Merrill, whom she first met as Mairelon the Magician. But as his ward, life hasn’t been exactly what she expected. He’s far enough into the gentry that his family is pressuring her to enter Society. Kim would rather be learning magic, but even that is a lot harder than she thought. And to top it all off, something strange is afoot in the grubby areas of town that Kim used to frequent . . .
This is a different book than its predecessor, but still very good. Whereas the first one was primarily focused on the mystery, and Kim getting to know Mairelon, this one has a greater focus on Kim’s struggles to define what she wants in life, as well as unraveling another mystery. I don’t really care for the whole Society angle, but what makes this book so funny is that neither Kim nor Richard do either. Richard’s better at blandishing his way through what he doesn’t want, but Kim has no qualms about standing up against convention when it suits her.
Kim’s struggling her way through her first romance, as well. Although most of Society doesn’t know what to make of her, one particular gentleman finds himself attracted. And although the book isn’t blatant about it, you can see what Richard thinks in many of the little things that happen around him, particularly towards the end. I like how Kim ultimately responds the way she does to her suitor; she’s not blinded by her feelings but decides with head as well as heart.
I also really like the way Kim and Richard approach trust. Kim has a hard time believing anyone’s word means much, given her background, and Richard doesn’t realize how some of his actions look to Kim. But throughout the book it’s very clear that both of them respect each other and work to mend fences, and they know each other well enough to do some very dangerous things without insisting on explanations up front.
All in all, this is a good companion to the first book. Although it will stand alone, it’s best read as the second half of a duology, particularly as this will give more depth to many of the main characters. I rate this book Highly Recommended.