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Red Madrassa (Algardis, #1)

Author: Terah Edun
Series: Algardis #1
Publisher: Terah Edun
Publication Date: Nov 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 245

Book Description: A magical accident threw them together. But when Fate holds all the cards, it can be impossible to tell the difference between pure chance and Destiny…

Allorna thought being a hereditary guardian meant an automatic posting with the royal family. Instead, she’s assigned to Petty Larceny–which has its moments, especially when she engineers a jailbreak and finds herself on the run from her colleagues.

With healer trainee Sidimo in tow, she sets out to save Maride, a young mage unjustly accused of murder. But now she has to clear her name as well. Easier said than done, especially when they accidentally enroll at the Red Madrassa, a legendary school of magic.

Alongside Vedaris, a sarcastic dragon-boy, and Sitara, a storm-caller, they soon find themselves hooked on their studies. The road they’ve stumbled upon is a challenging one, and now each must decide whether the Madrassa is where they truly belong..

*Book won through LibraryThing Member Giveaway*

This is the first time I’ve read anything by Terah Edun. When I first started the book I was curious. I had no prior knowledge of the story or the author and I was optimistic, as I am with most new books. The story started out well. It flitted back and forth between the five main characters, opening up right in the middle of action and intrigue from the start. I was interested and curious to see where their stories were to go, and to learn of their background and where they’ve come from. But then things got a bit odd.

By pure accident or coincidence (or perhaps by design of fate – as it seems to hint at often) the five characters (only three having known each other prior) find themselves stumbling into the Red Madrassa; the prestigious schooling for all those magical and talented. The three who knew each other – Allorna, Sidimo and Maride – had intended on leaving their home city for only the night. Maride had been arrested under the pretense of murdering his fiancé and Allorna (a city guard in training) and her friend, Sidimo (a healer in training) believe him to be innocent and help him escape. To my understanding they were going to set Maride free and then return to the city the next day. And yet they find themselves at Madrassa confused for late comers trying to apply and get into the school. But despite this they decide to stay (along with the other two – Vedaris and Sitara – who wound up in the healing ward for various reasons) and take the tests to get into Madrassa. To no surprise they all are accepted.

What I didn’t understand was the reasoning for Allorna and Sidimo to stay. They clearly had training, classes and lives back at the city and were planning on returning soon. Yet they just decided ‘hey we got in anyway let’s just take these classes and hope no one misses us for like a year’. The beginning of the book which led up to this point was about the first 30%. The rest of the novel is spent with the five characters and their lives at Madrassa, going into minute detail about their classes and schedules and how they fare for the year they are at Madrassa. Not only was this boring (a few classes had interesting topics for a few pages but really it was just like reading an AU fanfiction) but also felt completely pointless. I only continued to read because I was hoping the author would return to explaining the background of these characters.

Sitara, especially, had an interesting story because it starts with her in an old and abandoned building filled with portals that were used to transport people and things across long distances. We never learn what she was doing there or more about her people – the Octupani. Vedaris was also interesting in that he was of a dragon race and yet possessed no powers. Then we later find out he has latent fire abilities but it isn’t explained. He just happens to set things on fires accidentally once or twice. The end just didn’t make sense. We learn that SPOILER Maride’s fiancé was alive the whole time and that the Commander of the Guard knew of Allorna and Sidimo’s whereabouts the whole time. And then a snobby prince shows up to attend classes and now Allorna has to be his squire? END SPOILER And then the book just ends there.

The novel started with great potential. The character stories sounded interesting, the writing was solid and the characters themselves were believable. But the rest of the novel just felt like needless set up for book two. I have no idea if there was a point to go into detail about EACH and every one of their classes the five characters attended, or them deciding what chores to do around the house. It honestly was boring. There were a few instances where the author set up a great story plot – such as the religious knowledge of the Wayfarer and Vedaris learning that the woman is portrayed standing/sitting above a dragon-kin. He then tries to learn about the artists and walks into a shop that supposedly no one is supposed to see let along stumble into, but then that plot line is dropped and never addressed again. I feel this whole book was just set up for book two. I am disappointed because I feel like this story had so much potential and now I don’t even want to bother trying to find book two and read it.

The author has a couple other series and depending on the reviews of those books I may try her other works again. But I don’t think I’ll come back to this one unless it looks like book two is actually good. Because, again, the story line started out really good and a small part of me wants to know where it’s headed. I’m not really sure if I will or won’t at this point.

My Rating: ★★.5