Ruthless Magic indeed. The story begins with a young man named Finn trying to impress his family with his feeble magical ability. Finn comes from a long-time magical family, and yet he’s struggled to keep up with his magical peers. He’s desperate to prove himself to his granduncle and his father that he deserves placement at The Academy, and doesn’t want to be given a placement simply because of his familial relations.
The magical confederation determines which youth will be granted admission into the Academy for tutoring, and which will instead be “dampered”. If you’re not chosen for The Academy, your magical ability is dampered down to just a single enhanced ability, such as being a great cook. Finn’s best friend Prisha is the first in her family to be magical. The Confed doesn’t trust new magic. Their intent with their magical ability can’t be trusted. Discrimination runs rampant throughout this story.
Clearly a few young and brave souls need to change the hierarchy while surviving the test.
If not chosen for The Academy, a person can challenge the decision by declaring for “The Exam”, a magical test put on by The Confed. No one knows just what The Exam entails, only that it is dangerous. Rocio, our second point of view in Ruthless Magic knows all too well that the exam has cost lives of previous participants. Passing The Exam allows each champion to retain all of their magical ability. Failure is worse than the dampering. All of your magical ability is stripped away.
Hunger Games, meets Dumbledore’s Army with a Divergent twist.
Naturally, The Exam is much more dangerous than any of the examinees could have imagined. A few of them are suspicious of The Confed but wisely keep it to themselves. When met with very unsettling news from the examiners, all of them must make a difficult choice. They can forfeit and lose their magic, or they can continue for a chance to keep their magic while sacrificing their morals. Definitely an awful twist in the story.
In Ruthless Magic, no one is a witch/wizard, all simply mages. There are no wands. Magic is intertwined with the mage and is released with a rhythm or song lyric. This lends to a more honest and organic feeling of magic. Megan Crewe did a fantastic job of setting up the series for the next book. There is enough conclusion to be satisfied with this portion of Finn and Rocio’s story; however, there is definitely more Ruthless Magic ahead of them.