Above His Proper Station
by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Cover Artist: Scott Fischere
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765322807
Date: 23 November 2010 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Anrel Murau is more than anyone knows. He has become even more than he ever thought he could. He shunned a way of life that he could have had out of fear, but when he spoke on behalf of an ideal to which he didn't adhere, he embodied hope to many and a source of fear for others. Not that any of that makes it easier to survive or even earn a living.
Picking up immediately after the end of the prior novel ( see A Young Man Without Magic), Anrel flees to Lume. His reception is not all that he hoped. A simple mistake leads to a new life and new friends. Among the thieves in the poorest district of Lume, Anrel plots his next move.
The Grand Council is still meeting, but making no progress. Nobody is truly satisfied with current events. The sorcerers don't want to give up power, the commoners want to bring down the sorcerers, and the emperor wants to prevent the collapse of his reign. When the promised bounty of food is found to be tainted, unrest becomes an opportunity.
Anrel, because he is also Alvos the Orator, is given a chance to take a seat on the grand Council and earn a pardon. Anrel sees the need for the Grand Council to make changes. He sacrifices his pardon for a compromise that will change the balance of power in the Empire. Unfortunately, the opportunity is exploited and by the end, the only thing left is to escape, and maybe protect the ones he loves.
Above his Proper Station is the second volume of The Fall of Sorcerers. There is potential for several more entrants into this series, but it is currently not under contract for more. Readers should start withA Young Man Without Magic.
The magic system of the Empire is elemental based. Anyone who can use magic is made a Noble. Earth and air magic are the main focus for the sorcerers. The use of life to power or strengthen spells can corrupt the spell if it isn't carefully crafted. This is similar to the wish syndrome, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Magic may or may not be on the way out, but the inbreeding and lack of expansion is reducing the number able to produce and use magic. This has happened throughout human history as those with power limit their heirs and little new blood is let in to the circles of power, at some point those in charge become too arrogant for the amount of power they can wield, and thus comes their downfall. As this is a series about the fall of an empire and a way of life, I hope to see more.
This is classic Watt-Evans, so you won't be disappointed. It is a rousing romp creating a swords and sorcery adventure in the spirit of Dumas. Anrel is gifted but fears his gifts but uses them without true understanding. This series reminds me of his Ethshar series in that it has the same whimsical atmosphere. Bad things are happening, but they don't ever seem to put a dark cloud over the hero. You know the hero will find a way to win and that things will work out, just not exactly how you expect.