Title: The Flaw in All Magic
Author: Ben S. Dobson
Series: Magebreakers #1
Tane Carver is infamous. The only non-mage to have attended (and nearly graduated) from the university for mages, he’s convinced his own life proves you don’t need to be a mage to understand magic. But that was before his grand reveal got him expelled. Now he’s lucky to find enough work to afford rent for his office. When a murdered girl leads to an invitation back, he’s finally got a chance to do what he does best: find the problems in the spells that should have made the crime impossible.
This is an excellent fantasy/mystery. Tane recognizes the biggest problem with magic is the mage. Since magic will do exactly what you tell it to do, no more, no less, any vagaries in phrasing will have undesired outcomes. And he’s good at looking for those hidden assumptions, those unintentional gaps.
I was very amused by his partner, the half-orc Kadka. He gets her fired, and she retaliates by forcing him to hire her. Tane is just as guilty as many of the mages he despises of arrogance and not being able to see what’s under his own nose, and Kadka’s there to bail him out, time and again.
Sometimes talking worked, or knowledge, or clever tricks, but sometimes there was only Kadka’s way: charge at the problem with your teeth bared and punch it in the throat.
And Kadka’s just so much fun. She may be unused to cities or magic, but she’s got plenty of experience fighting. I like how well she understands Tane, as well as her childlike wonder at seeing magic. At one point, she tells Tane that she came here to see magic, and she’s seen more with him in one day than in all her previous travels—and it doesn’t seem to bother her that most of that magic was trying to kill her.
I’m also happy that Kadka’s relationship with Tane is simply partnership. Tane’s got his own love interest, and Kadka isn’t trying to make this a love triangle. They’re just solid friends, which is amazingly hard to find.
Indree is another interesting character. She and Tane used to be a couple, back in his university days. Then he was expelled, vanished, and any chemistry between them soured. Now she’s a cop, working the case—and not at ALL happy to have to deal with Tane again.
Overall this is a very good read and I can’t wait to jump into the sequel. I rate this book Highly Recommended.