The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two announces the fate of our anxious young adults from the first book who were just about to find out who is ‘common’ and who has ‘color’. In this high fantasy for young adults (and old adults), people are faced with a determined destiny at a young age and provided labels that can be life-changing: in some cases a blessing, in others – catastrophic. Wondertale | May, 2017 | Paperback | 352 pp
In Volume One, we are introduced to the island world of O’Ceea and their color driven society. People here have the ability to make projections and alter the world around them. Although the projections aren’t real, they can make a shack look like beautifully decorated home or someone dressed in threadbare could appear as an immaculately dressed person or even a fictional character – and projected flavor can really make a meal. While the world seems enticing, the O’ceean society has its drawbacks.
When young people come of age, they stand before a ‘puller’ in a public Color Ceremony where it is determined if that person has color or not. Those who do not have color, the majority, are doomed to face life as a commoner. They can still have professions and enjoy projecting if they join a guild, but their prospects are limited. Those who have color attain the glorious reputation as a ‘mage’ and can vie for much higher positions and occupations. The strongest of mages might even be accepted into The Magician’s Workshop where the most skilled mages are allowed to craft and be part of the yearly Grand Projections which we would see as movies or plays.
At the end of the first volume, the Color Ceremony is upon our varied group of protagonists. Some of them desperately want color to be found within them. They couldn’t bear to be labeled as a commoner. Others don’t want to become a mage and would rather be found common. Another already knows his fate. But by the end, we had not yet reached the ceremony.
Volume Two begins just before the ceremony and the reader becomes just as anxious as the characters. This isn’t a life or death situation, no great battles will be fought. Yet the anticipation of finding out who will have color after lengthy character development and subsequent attachment is quite vicious for the reader, just as it is for the characters. They stand before their peers, elders, and family and, one at a time, are found void or with color – are instantly labeled common or special. Their entire lives from this moment are determined. Most desperately want to be found with color because they don’t want to let their families and clans down, and they want the chance to get into the Workshop.
We find out who has color and who is found void early on in Volume Two, but I won’t be giving away the spoilers. There is Kai – a social outcast who wants to remain a commoner, his best friend Talia who wants to have color found, their friends Luge and Weston who want different outcomes, Kaso – a young orphan who is determined to have color found, Kalaya who is a sure bet by her lineage, and Layauna who was trained by only the best. Color can be found in anyone and it doesn’t matter who their parents are; it isn’t a trait passed along like traditional genes. Some color found are complete surprises while others who are sure to have color are found void. The problem is the pressure. For those found void, it is a humiliating and horrific moment. And not all of our main players will ascend to mage.
The Color Ceremony is only the beginning. We’re introduced to two elder trainers who abhor the practice of The Color Ceremony because to them, it doesn’t matter. They don’t like to see young lives wrecked because of high hopes and massive let down, and because they believe that anyone should be able to train as a mage, that anyone should have the chance and opportunity to enter the Workshop if that is their desire. And we learn that this just might be the case. Those found void might not truly be void.
The authors are building the suspense for an outing of the truth, repercussions it will have on the society, and revelations into the Workshop which we haven’t been privy to yet. The reader has no idea what goes on within the Workshop except that they make yearly Grand Projections that haven’t been so grand as of late. Something is wrong here but we don’t know what that is – could it be the Color Ceremony and the way people are chosen to enter?
Again, the world building is spectacular: the color-coded world, the magic of projections, the O’ceean society and their politics, and the hint of hypocrisy and a veil of lies. The character development matches the grandeur of the world building as we connect to several young adults and their very different lives – seeing them through their ups and downs, knowing their dreams. The authors did well to create a visceral attachment to our characters. After the Color Ceremony, I had no fingernails left. And I hope Volume Three is out soon.