The Unconquered Mage by Melissa McShane
The CONVERGENCE fantasy trilogy wraps up in The Unconquered Mage (2017), as Melissa McShane continues to explore the repercussions of the magical merging of two different worlds, with different language and cultures. Balaen and Castavir were split apart centuries ago by a complex magical spell that went awry. Now the two countries are reunited physically, as are our main characters, the Balean mage Sesskia, who narrates the story through her diary entries, and her husband Cederic, head of the Castavir mages. But there’s disunity of the countries from a political standpoint, and that’s echoed in Sesskia and Cederic’s relationship to some extent as well, as they go through some bumps in working out their relationship as a couple.
The first book in this series, The Summoned Mage, dealt with the pre-convergence of the two worlds and the magic involved in trying to ease that process. The second book, The Wandering Mage, dealt with the immediate aftereffects of convergence and the physical separation of Sesskia and Cederic. The focus in this third and final volume in the CONVERGENCE series is on the political and military conflicts. The weak-minded King of Balaen has fallen under the influence (romantically and politically) of the lovely but criminally insane God-Empress of the Castaviran Empire. Sesskia and Cederic are offering an alternative to the government of these two prior rulers, but the King and the God-Empress aren’t prepared to go quietly into retirement.
Cederic and Sesskia travel around the country, trying to win allies among the local rulers of various countries and areas that have been part of the Castaviran Empire. Meanwhile, Sesskia is still trying to figure out how to integrate and unify the different magical systems of the two worlds. Because although the worlds have converged, their two magical systems have not, which not only prevents magic from being used to its full potential and power, but could also be dangerous. The ante is upped when the mages discover that their separate forms of magic are gradually becoming weaker each day, with more and more effort being required to produce a lesser result.
The Unconquered Mage isn’t quite as strong a novel as the prior ones. It starts off with a bang, a dangerous escapade to rescue a friend from the clutches of the enemies, but the rest of the book is noticeably slower in its pacing. After all the fuss about the search for a way to unify the two magical systems, the final resolution of that subplot fell a little flat for me. Also, the ending was somewhat abrupt in its wrap-up of the political situation. I would have like an epilogue that explained more about the fates of the various characters, a few of which were left a bit up in the air.
One very interesting development is Sesskia’s discovery about her family history from an unexpected source, which is a gamechanger for her personally and on a broader scale. In connection with that plot line, as well as in connection with the personal relationship between Sesskia and Cederic, McShane makes some valid and thought-provoking points about forgiveness and love.
Though I wasn’t as impressed with The Unconquered Mage as the earlier ones in this series, overall the CONVERGENCE series was a worthwhile read with some unusual elements. I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy magical fantasies with a strong romance component, as well as political intriguing and maneuvering.
There’s something really appealing about the cover images for these books, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. The books themselves sound fun, and I know a few people who might enjoy them even more than you did — thanks so much for reviewing the series!
That’s too funny, Jana, because Marion commented earlier (in my review of the 2nd book, The Wandering Mage) that she found these covers unappealing. :) My ratings for the series averaged out to 3.5 stars, which seems about right to me. I liked them fairly well, and there were some excellent bits to them, but not everything in them worked for me.
Ha, that’s too funny! :) Obviously they’re not perfect books, but they sound enjoyable, and that’s good enough for me to pass along a recommendation.