Book Review

If Only They Knew

“Mage of No Renown,” by Kel Kade

This book can stand-alone, but since it’s part of Kel Kade’s King’s Dark Tidings series, I’m going to split this review into two parts:

  • Part 1: for those who have no idea who Rezkin is and simply want to dip their toes into the fantastical world of Ashai.
  • Part 2: for those who’ve read the rest of the series and are looking at this book more as #4.5 in the series than as a prequel. (I comment on books 1-4 in this section, but no big spoilers).

Whether or not you’ve read King’s Dark Tidings

Mage of No Renown has a lot of labels… It’s a prequel to the King’s Dark Tidings series, but Kel Kade technically sorts this book as #1 in the Tales of Terralor series.

BUT it can also stand alone.

If this is your first time picking up a Kel Kade book, the only time I’d expect you to be utterly confused is during the first section of the prologue (don’t worry, it’s short).
To quickly introduce the story…

Plots of Character

Wesson Seth starts as a 12 year old boy who thinks his biggest life trial will be sustaining his family’s social status among the lords and ladies of western Ashai. Then, he explodes with magic in a fight. Oops.

He learns about a Mage Academy where he can learn to harness his powers, but before you call this another “supernatural kid goes to supernatural school” story, Wesson’s chased out of his hometown by a mob.

Kel Kade likes to create paradoxical characters (which I love, because I can relate to paradoxes), and Wesson is one of his prime examples.

Wesson quickly learns that his magic likes to blow things up and set things on fire. This destructive magic usually overpowers constructive magics, like wielding the other natural elements or healing. However, scarred by the damage he caused, Wesson becomes determined to suppress his fire and destructive magics and learn how to use constructive magics (even though such a thing is supposed to be impossible).

There are fun action scenes as Wesson learns to control his magic over the years while an assassin stalks him, but Mage of No Renown has a major internal story of Validation (or Morality: Testing if we’re using Story Grid). This means that instead of the main character changing his own thoughts/behaviors, he sticks to his convictions while those around him test his convictions and make the change to accept/reject him for who he is.

While this book had a lot of fun jokes and inspiring quotes (typical to Kel Kade’s books), I related to this one the most:

“It looks like late night reading for me.”
Tica chuckled. “What’s new? You would have had your nose in some book anyway.”
Wesson scowled. “It is different when it is something you want to read.”

End of chapter 19, “Mage of No Renown.”

It might have been 2AM when I read this…


Mage of No Renown is much cleaner than the King’s Dark Tidings books, but I wouldn’t give it to an 8 year-old. Maybe a mature 10 year-old at the youngest. Fights involve blood and lots of pain, but I’d only call one scene “gory.” You could almost call it a “sweet romance” if not for the bad guys’ innuendoes to sex and torture. It would make a mild PG-13 movie.

I have a lot more to say about this book, BUT the rest contains references to books 1-4 of King’s Dark Tidings. If you haven’t read that series, I highly recommend them for fans of fantasy assassin characters with a good dose of romantic comedy. You can read my review for Free the Darkness (book 1) here.

IF you’ve read “King’s Dark Tidings,” Books 1-4…

I need to put that classifier for the specific books since book 5 is now available and you can read my review for Dragons and Demons here.

When to read it (regarding the rest of the series)

Since it can technically stand alone, you can read Mage of No Renown whenever. Its events occur before and separately from Free the Darkness (book 1) (except for the epilogue), so you can read it before the rest of the series.
Or, since Rezkin doesn’t meet Wesson until Reign of Madness (book 2), you can read it before or after book 2. Those who’ve read book 2 know how this story ends. In fact, you’ve already read the epilogue (only difference being it’s strictly from Wesson’s perspective).
Just be sure to read it sometime before Dragons and Demons (book 5), because that’s where the plots and characters become interwoven.

Change of Narration

Unlike the first few books of King’s Dark Tidings, Mage of No Renown is strictly in third-person LIMITED. This means you see only from one character’s perspective at a time. It’s about 90% from Wesson’s view and the rest is separated to various characters (mostly the assassin’s).

References to Rezkin

There are some references (hidden and blatant) to Rezkin. The prologue begins with the discussion between King Bordran and three men (two of which become Rezkin’s masters) about Rezkin’s birth (without actually revealing who Rezkin is). My favorite reference is probably in chapter two.

“You have Tales of the Shadow Knight !”
. . . . .
What respectable young man could resist the legend of the king’s greatest weapon, his assassin and most brutal warrior, who stalks the halls of the Souelian’s most powerful like a wraith, who elevates allies and destroys enemies without ever hinting to his own existence?
. . . . .
As much as [Wesson] hated to admit it, he could think of absolutely no circumstance under which he would need to know anything about the mysterious and infamous Shadow Knight.

Chapter 2, “Mage of No Renown”

Also, at the end of chapter one, Wesson has a dream that involves a raven. In Free the Darkness (book 1), we know that Rezkin takes on the nickname, Raven. The dream is left open for interpretation in this book, but I searched it. The word “raven” is mentioned a total of six times in Mage of No Renown. Five of those mentions are in reference to the dream. The only other time “raven” is used is in the epilogue when describing “the raven-haired man,” later revealed to be Rezkin. I really hope Mr. Kade did that on purpose, because I think it’s brilliant.

Final Score

In the end, I consider it a fun addition to the King’s Dark Tidings series. Knowing how it ends (because it’s a prequel) kind of killed the thrills for me, and even though I knew this would be a Validation story (of “I refuse to destroy, regardless of what others say”), I somehow wanted it to be a Maturation story (of “I accept my strengths, but I’ll use them my way”).

****4.25 stars****

Rating: 4 out of 5.

2 replies on “If Only They Knew”

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