Ink Mage, the first book in the A Fire Beneath the Skin series by Victor Gischler, is a decent beginning to the trilogy. What made this book stand out the most was the idea that magic comes from tattoos. Our journey begins with an attack by Perranese raiders on the Duchy of Klaar. After both of her parents are killed, Rina bare escapes with her life. Thanks to her fathers foresight in talking with Kork, Rina is led to a cave high up in the mountains where she meets a wizard who alters her life forever by giving her a “Prime” tattoo. Unfortunately, for Rina, before she even has time to ask more questions to learn Weylan dies and she is charged with meeting other wizards to grow her power. With wizards spread seemingly across the Kingdom of Helva and beyond, Rina’s journey to take back her Duchy of Klaar could take longer than she would wish.
It is obvious this book was written by a man. Many times in Ink Mage there seemed to be a lot of fascination with the female physique, something I believe should have been left out of this story. I felt that many of the female characters appeared rather flat and with little character growth. Even Rina and Maurizan had little to no development to their characters beyond base emotions and a convoluted love story that has all the hallmarks of a messy love triangle. In my opinion, in the author’s desire to wrap up Ink Mage the ending was rushed, with the receipt of the ultimate power tattoo and final battle of little consequence. I also found the ‘gotta catch em all’ tattoo frenzy that drove Ink Mage to be a little too easy. As such I am giving Ink Mage 3/5 tattoos. I liked the concept but unfortunately found that the book could not live up to my expectations no matter how much I wanted it to.
I received this book for free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.