the Little Red Reviewer

The Gossamer Mage, by Julie Czerneda – Blog Tour!

Posted on: July 26, 2019

This post is part of The Gossamer Blog Tour! and it wouldn’t be a blog tour without a giveaway, now would it?  In the almost ten years that I have been blogging, I have NEVER seen a give away like this before!   Click for details! (Are you outside the US? Gotcha covered!)

Earlier today I posted a guest post from Julie Czerneda, where she takes us inside her worldbuilding process, and talks about maps and distances and that sometimes the map is the territory.


The Gossamer Mage by Julie Czerneda

Available August 6 2019

Where I got it: Received ARC (thanks DAW!)









Where I got it:  received for review (thanks DAW!)

Go ahead, judge a book by its cover.  Especially this book. The golden ink on that cover, you would swear that it moves when you look away.  What happens to the words that are written with such ink, with the intentions that come with those words?  What indeed.


Julie Czerneda’s newest fantasy novel, The Gossamer Mage, takes us to the beautiful land of Tananen.  In the port city, in the rolling hills, in the villages, in the mage school up in the mountains, magic flows through Tananen.  Mages and Priestesses commit their lives to the Deathless Goddess, and through Her, through writing Her intentions, amazing magic happens.  While the townspeople and villagers love the magical medicines, technologies, machines, and trinkets, those intimately involved with Her magic know the terrible cost of what they do.  Travelers and traders have learned the hard way that magic only exists within the boundaries of Tananen, and that the Deathless Goddess is not welcoming to strangers. She protects Her secrets.


The Gossamer Mage is a quietly compelling, character driven, smartly written fantasy. If you crave characters that leap off the page, if you  prefer knowledge over swords, if you liked Fullmetal Alchemist (really! There’s a connection!), this is the book for you.


The first thing that hit me while reading The Gossamer Mage was how much I loved the way Czerneda did the world building.  I feel like if I took a drive, Tananen could be over the next hilltop and I’d know exactly where I was. Czerneda’s writing is incredibly immersive, but it never feels like she is burying the reader in exposition or infodumps.  As characters travel around Tananen, she takes the opportunity to show their experiences and observations as they explore their new locations, everything feels immersive and natural.


Magic in Tananen isn’t cheap.  Getting a magical trinket, or a made-horse from a mage won’t cost you very much. . .  but it costs the mage dearly.   Magic is done by writing the Goddess’s Intentions, and each  successfully written intention costs the mage at least a year off their lifespan.  The more bells sewn into a mage’s hair, the more intentions they have written, the less years they have left to live.  A 30 year old mage easily appears to be 85 years of age, or older. It is an honor for your child to show the talent that will take them to the mage school.  Mothers weep at the news, knowing they will outlive their child.

So why create magic it at all?  Because the mage has no choice. They must write the intentions.   They must literally spend their life in service to the Goddess.  And when learning? When practicing? An unsuccessfully written intention creates a gossamer, a beautiful magical creature of no use whatsoever. Gossamers are allowed to live out their lives in safety,  as the Goddess will not allow gossamers to be harmed.


But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if there was a way to do magic without paying the terrible cost?  The Deathless Goddess protects her secrets, and the traditions of Tananen will do anything to protect their legacy.


The mage Maleonarial is an outcast, due to his heretical search for a way to break the cycle, to do magic without paying the cost. (Oh hai FMA connection!)  He views his unbreakable bond with the Deathless Goddess as a prison. He’s trying to break tradition, but tradition is finicky like that . . it will do anything to survive unscathed.   Tradition views itself as natural law, making it blind and as flexible as a brick wall.


But there’s something darker going on as well,  something else that is trying to push through and do harm to Tananen’s magical society.   Czerneda gives you, the reader, some hints as to what might be going on, but the characters will have to figure it out on their own.


I’m making this sound super serious, aren’t I?  Yes, this is a serious book, but there are light and humorous scenes as well!  There is a “fight scene” at the end that had me laughing my head off and cheering.  I don’t usually like fight scenes (I often find them boring), and this “fight scene” was absolutely brilliant!


Oh, I haven’t even mentioned Kait yet!  I loved her so much! Kait has left her family and her home to follow her calling to become a prospective successor-designate to the Hold Daughter of  Tiler’s Hold. That’s a round about way of saying that Kait is a priestess in training, and if successful she will serve the Hold Daughter as her designate.  The Hold Daughters and their designates make many if not all of the political decisions in Tananen. They also do other things, in service to the Goddess. It isn’t a job, it’s a calling.


Here’s the best thing about Kait, the thing that for me made The Gossamer Mage more than just a fun fantasy romp:  Kait is a single mom who has a full time career/calling, and no one judges her for it.  No one judges her for how she chose her son’s father (and why he isn’t in her son’s life), no one judges her for leaving her son with his uncle while she followed a calling that took her away from home. The other women she works with, even they don’t judge her for this.


Did any of you read Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent novels (A Natural History of Dragons, etc)?  They are super good, I highly recommend. The main character, Isabella Camherst is a naturalist, and her chosen career requires that she travels around to study different animals.  After her husband dies, she leaves her young son with other family members so she can continue her career. And she is judged mercilessly. Which will Isabella choose?  The career she is passionate about, or meeting society’s expectations of what it means to be a good mother?  (Isabella does notice that fathers are not held to this standard)


Kait has the life, the support, and the freedom that Isabella Camherst dreamed of.


Ok, so I know the plot of The Gossamer Mage is about Maleonarial breaking the cycle, of him desperately trying to change traditions so old they are seen as the laws of nature, of all sorts of other hella cool things.  This is a book about the cost of magic, the cost of being trapped in blind tradition, and the power of family and faith in something larger than yourself. #sorrynotsorry that I’ve not told you any details about the plot.


I know Maleonarial is supposed to be the main character, I know the the story is supposed to be about him, and his trial and errors of finding a way to do magic without paying the price,  and the makeup of Tananen. I know these things to be true. And all of things in the plot, they were all amazing!!


But, there was this super subtle thing.  It’s never explicitly stated, and yet it was more important and amazing to me than any magic from any deity.  It was Kait, and how she has it all: – a family, a career, and people who don’t judge her for her choices. Czerneda gave me a society that supported Kait’s career choices and viewed her actions and choices as completely normal. No one judged her because her actions weren’t considered anything out of the ordinary.   That’s how you break a cycle.


5 Responses to "The Gossamer Mage, by Julie Czerneda – Blog Tour!"

“There is a “fight scene” at the end that had me laughing my head off and cheering. I don’t usually like fight scenes (I often find them boring), and this “fight scene” was absolutely brilliant!”

I understand!
An FMA connection, you say? Geez, I really need to get some Czerneda books read! Thanks for another energetic review to spur on a slow-reader like myself!


one of my favorite things about FMA is that sure, you can transmute stuff. . . but it’s gonna cost you. and the more people learn about how and why the magic works, the more it costs them (where’s Alexander?). The Gossamer Mage was no where near as grim, in fact, it isn’t grim at all! but some of the ideas about the costs of magic, and how the price is paid, and that people are more than happy to pay the price, it reminded me a little FMA.

Gossamer Mage might be my favorite Czerneda!


Great review, this is a book that I’ve really been liking the look of – I don’t think it’s out yet in the UK but I will add it to my wishlist.
Lynn 😀


Amazon UK page says Aug 6th release date, same as US!


Awesome review! Even more excited now … squeeeeeeee!!! 😀


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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