Whenever I start the second or later book in a series, I have a dilemma. Do I go back and re-read the first book(s), or just dive right into the latest release?
To help readers with this, I include a summary of the previous books. I try to make these funny, and have done this for all my novels.
BE WARNED! If you haven’t read the books being summarized, there are massive spoilers on these pages!
You can read the rest of the summaries at magitechchronicles.com/previously-on.
Let’s get to it.
In an announcer’s voice: Last time on The Magitech Chronicles…
War Mage kicked off with Voria bringing the Spellship back to Shaya, to have the gunk cleaned off the walls. Said gunk is the Blood of Nefarius, which corrupts any living thing it touches. This began as a minor subplot in book three, back when we thought the Krox were the only thing to fear.
We flash to Aran, who has just parked the Talon inside the Spellship. He’s come to rendezvous with the person Shaya has sent to clean the ship, and it turns out to be Ree. She accuses Nara of being a traitor, and Nara reacts badly because she’s a little preoccupied.
Their spat is interrupted as Ree and her mages are attacked by Kheross. Wait, who now? There was a throwaway line near the end of book three where Aran teleports onto the Spellship, and meets the Outrider, Rhea. She helps him find the door, and realize his destiny and all that junk.
While they are talking, they hear a roar in the distance from a large creature, say something the size of, oh, I don’t know, maybe a colossal Wyrm. Rhea mentions that’s Kheross, and that he used to be a friend before he was corrupted by the blood.
Aran and the company kick Kheross’s draconic ass, but not before he carves up a lot of Ree’s mages. She’s left angry, both at Aran, and at Nara. The latter is mostly because Ree blames herself for Frit’s escape, and thinks that Nara was in on it.
Nara doesn’t help matters, because at the end of Spellship she woke up to find someone named Talifax sitting in her room. Talifax is the Guardian of Nefarius, and is super mysterious. Nefarius is a rival of Krox’s, who was apparently killed during the godswar. Talifax wants to bring her back so that there will be more books after Krox is killed.
Anyway, Talifax sent Nara a dream where she killed Voria, and claims that it’s going to come true. Then, he did something impossible. He gave Nara her memories back.
Those memories are coming back one at a time, and Nara is quite justifiably freaking out. She knows she wasn’t a good person before, and fears going back to her old self.
Meanwhile, Eros is cracking out with the Mirror of Shaya. He knows something bad is coming for Shaya, but can’t provide any details about what it is, so he sounds like a rambling lunatic. He and Voria do a lot of posturing. Her priorities are getting the Spellship cleaned, and also cleansing Rhea and Kheross, the refugees Aran brought back from the timeline where the Spellship was discovered.
Eros and his council perform their cleansing ritual, and it works on Rhea. The Outrider is squirreled away by Eros to Yanthara, because he’s preparing the plot for Krox Rises and knows Aran will need to pass by there. Kheross, whose cleansing doesn’t work, is given into Aran’s custody and put in the brig of the Talon, since there is no pound for void-corrupted Wyrms and Aran can’t find him a good home anywhere else.
Right around the time you were yawning for the first time wondering when the politics would stop, the Krox lay the smack down at New Texas, and I delivered more pew, pew than a church. They kick Ternus’s second largest colony squarely in the nards (those are testicles in case it wasn’t clear) with a large-scale invasion.
Ternus puts up a bat signal for Voria. This is a dramatic re-enactment:
Ternus: You signed a treaty, so, like, help us and stuff.
Eros: No. Suck it.
Voria: Don’t be a douche, Eros.
Eros’s douchiness intensifies.
Ternus: But, we’re like dying and stuff.
Eros: Nope, not gonna help. I have a vague premonition that something might attack Shaya, so we need literally every ship and every mage to protect our world. Just in case.
Voria: Just in case you get attacked, you know, like New Texas?
Eros: Exactly. We need to be able to protect ourselves.
I should write movie scripts. Anyway, Voria gives Eros the middle finger. She takes the Spellship, and heads for the capitol of Ternus, because she’s also had a vague premonition. She thinks Nebiat is going to attack something else besides New Texas, and worries that if she goes there, she won’t be where she needs to be.
Early spoilers: this is happening because they’re both being manipulated by Nebiat’s dad, Teodros. He’s been quietly pruning possibilities to show them things he wants them to see, while obscuring things he doesn’t want them to know.
Flash back to Nara. She experiences a memory from her distant past, before she was enslaved by Yorrak. It turns out she was in the Zephyr program, which was a Ternus experiment to create Tech Mages.
The Zephyr version of her character is the template for the Spellsniper class in the pen and paper game, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Anyway, when Nara comes back from this memory she finds that Talifax has been controlling her body. While she was incapacitated he used her body to steal the Talon, and has almost reached Shaya’s umbral shadow. She’s about to turn around when Ree and her spellfighters come after her.
Nara doesn’t want to risk going back, because if Talifax can control her then maybe he really can make her assassinate Voria. So she bugs out with the Talon, and leaves Shaya, disabling Ree’s fighter as she zooms by.
Aran is more than a little annoyed that his ride has been jacked, and the rest of the company is pretty pissed at Nara too. They have to decide a course forward, and Crewes suggests that Aran resign from the Confederacy and form a mercenary company.
So he does.
They use the money from Virkon to buy out their contracts, and to purchase brand new spellarmor from Kazon. If they still had a ship they’d be set. Since they don’t, Aran proposes a plan to the on-world Ternus representative…Admiral Nimitz (one of the guys who prosecuted Voria back in Void Wyrm). Nimitz agrees to look the other way, and Aran and Davidson steal the Wyrm Hunter from the Confederacy.
Aran also contacts Ree, and shames her into coming with them to help Ternus, because she feels responsible for both Frit and Nara’s escape. She’s brought a dozen spellfighters, further augmenting the relief force Aran leads to New Texas.
Speaking of Frit, she’s brought her sisters to the Heart of Krox, where they were originally born. When she gets there, it’s nothing at all like she’d hoped. Her people are mindless slaves, incapable of language. Her sisters and she are alone, and have nowhere to go.
Cue Nebiat’s arrival. She shows up with her son Kaho, the dude who lost a hand to Aran back in Spellship. Frit realizes they’ve been manipulated. They have nowhere to go except with Nebiat, and so they all agree to serve her. Frit goes along with it despite her reservations, and quickly finds that she has an ally in Kaho, who also hates Nebiat.
Nebiat’s goal is to locate something called magibombs, which is a super original name, I know. I’m quite proud of it. Anyway, she wants to use these magibombs to destroy Colony 3, thus robbing the entire sector of its food supply for decades.
Meanwhile, Voria puts out a call to Shaya, and to her shock, many, many people answer. Drifters and Shayans alike leave their world to help New Texas, and she ends up with a city full of people living inside the Spellship. Many are life mages, and quickly finish cleaning the ship. They also never lack for beer, since Drifters.
Nara arrives at the abandoned facility where Ternus trained the Zephyrs. It’s been abandoned, but she’s hoping to learn more about her past, and has no idea where else to go. Only a few of her memories have returned, but more are coming back.
Not long after she arrives, she finds her old combat suit, rifle, and pistol. Talifax appears and she asks him why he wanted her to come here. She gets her answer when Frit and Nebiat arrive. Talifax placed her in Nebiat’s path intentionally, though Nara has no idea why.
This next part was hard to write, because Nebiat is smart.
If she captured Nara she’d kill her, instantly. Because letting her live is muhahah villain stupid. However, she gets a missive from dad, and Teodros tells her not only is she not going to kill Nara, but she’s going to give Frit the Talon, and the magibombs, and have them destroy Colony 3.
Nebiat protests that you don’t give super important tasks to underlings, but Teodros insists. He tells Nebiat to bring the rest of the Ifrit back to the Erkadi Rift, effectively removing her from the war for the time being. She’s pissed, but reluctantly obeys. She knows her dad is planning something big, and just hopes whatever it is doesn’t screw her.
Aran arrives at New Texas, and we get some of the most fun combat I’ve ever written. Aran and his company combat drop into the Ternus equivalent of the Pentagon, called Fort Crockett. They punch through the Krox assault, and everyone gets to show off. Looooots of pew, pew, BOOM, RAWR. Good stuff, I’m telling you.
Ternus dispatches a reporter called Erika Tharn to record the drop, and Tharn follows the company in as they punch through all enemy opposition. They get inside, and the footage is broadcast all over the sector, finally giving Ternus hope that they can fight back against the Krox.
Unfortunately, while Aran makes it in, the best he can do is hold the Krox at bay. Sooner or later they’ll overwhelm the facility. He deals with waves of incorporeal wights and some powerful demons, but if they don’t get backup they’ll only be able to keep them at bay for so long.
Frit arrives at Colony 3 fully intending to destroy it. Nara realizes that the reason Talifax placed her in Frit’s path was so that she could persuade Frit not to do it. Nara succeeds, and Frit realizes that killing hundreds of millions of people, and causing billions more to starve is going too far, no matter what Shaya did to her and her sisters.
Frit’s sister, Fritara, a total teacher’s pet sent by Nebiat, tries to kill Frit. Nara is forced to execute her, and saves Frit’s life. Just when things are looking up, Ree and her squadron of spellfighters arrive. They’re here to hunt Frit, and Frit doesn’t know what to do.
Nara suggests contacting Ternus and offering to turn over the bombs, so they do. They surrender. Ree attacks anyway. They pilot the Talon into the Ternus battle stations, and Ree ends up getting shot down by Ternus. She dies. It’s very sad. Not like, were Crewes to die level of sad, but more like…she could have come around and been a cool ally.
Meanwhile Voria goes to New Texas, even though she knows that this is giving her opponents time to spring some sort of trap. She gets there just as Aran has finished up like nine chapters in a row of straight combat with endless demons. He’s holding on, but barely.
Voria casts a spell from the Spellship which engulfs the entire world, and effectively counter spells the binding holding all the undead and demons in check. The corpses collapse, and the demons turn on their masters.
Aran and company finish saving the Ternus command structure, and everything is happy, yay! We’ve beaten the Krox.
Here comes the trap.
Teodros’s whole plan was to hit Shaya. Eros was right. Teodros is the Guardian of Krox, and is basically a demigod. He shows up at Shaya with an army of undead dragons. Basically he animated every dragon that died over the last three decades, and uses them to assault the tree.
There’s a big battle with the Shayan forces losing (if only they had the Wyrm Hunter, and Ree’s fighters, and the Talon, and the Spellship). Eros falls back to the Chamber of the First where the reservoir of immense magic designed to raise Shaya is housed.
Teodros beats Eros down, kills Erika (the Warmaster, not the reporter), and drinks the pool. Eros gets the last word though. He mutters a death curse, which puts a minor compulsion on Teodros. That becomes really important later.
Nebiat arrives in the Erkadi Rift and finds out all about dad’s plan. It turns out he’s going to resurrect Krox, but with some stipulations. Krox will be a slave, and Teodros will be in the driver’s seat. It’s an audacious plan, and it requires a massive amount of life magic…which Teodros just stole from Shaya.
There’s just one tiny problem. Eros’s death curse causes Teodros to build a critical flaw into his spell. When he tries casting it, his wards fail, and Krox eats him. BURRRRRP. No more Teodros. Nebiat sees the mostly finished spell, and remembers how Nara stepped in and finished casting hers back on Marid in book one.
Why not do the same thing?
She finishes her father’s spell, and seizes control of Krox. Nebiat rises as a goddess, backed by the power of one of the oldest gods in the universe.
Not bad for a cliff hanger, eh?
On to Krox Rises!