Official site of speculative fiction writer Brian W. Foster, author of "Rise of the Mages"

Rise Series Summary

If you’re about to read the latest book in the Rise of the Mages series and want a refresher on what happened in the previous books, you’ve found the right page. I’ll add a summary for Gryphon upon release of Book 3, Wizard’s Strike.

Summary of Abuse of Power

Major August “Auggie” Asher and his best friend, Benj Flynn, are in the woods hunting horse thieves and generally consider their life gallivanting about the countryside seeking adventure to be highly fun. Auggie, though, is the son of the duke, and his father is in poor health. Eventually, Auggie will have to take over running the duchy, but he resists accepting that responsibility—any responsibility, really, including marrying and producing an heir—with all his might.

After reporting the location of the bandits to their superior officers, Benj drags Auggie to a tavern. Auggie’s eyes light on a girl sweeping in the corner. Fresh off a breakup, he typically shows little interest in barmaids. Benj is intrigued. He approaches the little waif of a girl and gains a slap for his troubles. Auggie steps in to sooth her worries but ends up coercing her into joining them for a drink instead of letting her return to her duties.

A catcher—someone who earns a living catching mages and turning them over to the authorities for execution—Emar, enters the tavern and tries to extort free food by threatening the staff with accusations of being mages. As Alaina cowers at the table, Auggie confronts Emar. Emar ends up arresting her for being a mage.

Thinking the catcher’s actions a gross abuse of power, Auggie follows Emar to his camp and finds Alaina confined to a cage. Against her wishes, Auggie rescues her. With Emar and his guardsmen on their heels, Auggie, Benj, and Alaina flee to the safety of the fort. That protection won’t last long, though, as the rescue had been illegal. They get new horses and supplies before riding out the gate, once again under heavy pursuit.

They ditch Emar but lose their horses in the process. Their only hope to get to safety is scaling down a cliff. Benj and Alaina scamper down without an issue. Auggie falls.

Before he hits the ground and surely loses his life, however, his fall is somehow broken. At first, he thinks it a miracle from the Holy One. Then, he sees Alaina’s face.

After some coercion, she tells her story. Back in her hometown, she was engaged to a blacksmith, and everything was going great. Then, Raymon Macias (this name is important in Gryphon), the son of her duchy’s duke, decided that he must possess her, even if only for a single night. She refused.

With Macias about to have her fiancé executed, Alaina wished for the headsman’s ax to fly away. It did. Everyone looked at her. She’d become a mage, and the penalty was death. She got away and eventually found work at the inn where Auggie found her.

Since Alaina wasn’t innocent, his duty was to turn her over to a catcher, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. High nobles, as long as they don’t openly practice magic, aren’t bound by the law. By marrying her, he could save her from death. She reluctantly agrees to the wedding, noting that high nobles not being subject to the law is the true abuse of power.

They make their way to a nearby town and arrange for the tender and the mayor to conduct an official wedding. Before the vows could be completed, though, Emar arrives. He and Auggie duel, and Auggie wins. Emar, his life spared, upholds his end of the bargain and departs without Alaina.

Now that the immediate threat is past, Alaina gives Auggie his ring back. He’s devastated to find out that she doesn’t want to marry him. She keeps insisting there is no reason for them to get married. Finally, he gets the message. He’d been treating her like an object to be gained, like a business transaction. The only reason to get married is love, and he professes that for her.

They each ask promises of the other, though. Alaina vows to never use her power again, and Auggie promises to do all he can to change the law so that people aren’t put to death simply for an accident of birth.

She agrees to marry him, and the ceremony is completed.

When she says her name, Alaina Asher, he grimaces, explaining that it’s tradition in his family that everyone has alliterative initials, a tradition he hoped to end with him. He couldn’t help the name of his wife, but he was definitely not going to name his children that way.

Alaina smiles and says that she kind of likes the traditions.

The book ends with a note explaining that Auggie and Alaina’s daughter, Ashley, is one of the characters in Rise of the Mages.


Summary of Rise of the Mages

Xan Conley is an apprentice apothecary. For twenty nights, he’s been dreaming of a beautiful girl, Ashley. Not a bad thing, except he feels like he’s not sleeping at all. He’s so tired that he’s taking an addictive drug to stay awake, and he makes a mistake that almost kills a patient. At his wit’s end, he tries mixing dangerous herbs into a potion to stop the dreams. It doesn’t work, and he meets her again that night.

A catcher, Justav, is riding toward Xan’s town of Eagleton chasing a dreaming mage in order to execute him.

Xan is oblivious to the danger and to the fact that he’s a mage. The next night, he dreams again and is arrested. He’s shocked when his master, the apothecary Rae, explains that dreaming like Xan did is actually magic use. Xan is an alchemist, a mage who can add and subtract energy from chemical reactions, such as starting a fire.

Xan’s friends, Brant and Dylan, and his adoptive sister, Lainey, break him out of jail, but Lainey kills a guardsman in the process. She hides the body and doesn’t tell anyone what happened.

The foursome goes on the run, deciding that they have to try to find Ashley since she is in danger from catchers, too. They’re sure Justav will have no idea which way they went, so they should be able to build a good lead. As they travel, Xan uses notes given to him by Master Rae to learn how to use magic, and they discover all four of them are mages, a really improbable event. Xan deduces that the plague that left him an orphan killed people who didn’t have magic ability.

Unfortunately, Justav picked up their trail a lot faster than they expected. The passes are closed by snow, and the group gets caught in a snowstorm. Brant has to use his magic power, which allows him control over mass, to sense where a cave is. They get to safety.

They’re still trapped, though. The passes are closed, and they can’t backtrack because of Justav. There’s only one option—go through the cave. Brant once again comes to the rescue and figures out a path.

Justav, however, stays right on their tail through the cave. Brant and Dylan work together to block a tunnel, and they think they’re finally safe. Justav soon makes it through, though, and there’s only one explanation for how he did it—he has mages working for him in violation of all laws and treaties.

The group slowed Justav down enough, however, to get ahead of him. On their way to rescue Ashley, Xan sees a reward poster. Ashley isn’t just some peasant girl; she’s the daughter of their duke, August “Auggie” Asher. And she’s been kidnapped.

Suspecting that her capture is a trap, they proceed with the rescue, mainly because Xan is completely besotted with her. He can’t wait to rescue her and win her love and affection. They also hope that part of the reward for her safe return will be pardons for all of them.

While Xan is dealing with the ringleader of the kidnappers, Brant rushes ahead and rescues Ashley himself. Worse, she doesn’t seem to remember her dreams with Xan at all. In fact, she hates him. And Lainey, deeply affected by her experience with the guardsman, has decided that killing another person is the worst thing anyone can do.

As Xan defends himself during the rescue, several of the guards end up dead. Lainey is not happy with him.

Discouraged at his treatment from the girl he loves and his adoptive sister being angry at him, he sinks into a depression, barely paying much attention when they pick up a new group member, Mari, who takes an immediate liking to Dylan.

Justav pursues them until they reach the relative safety of a garrison. The commander, Sergeant Pruitt, guarantees the group safe passage to Asherton to see the duke. Justav follows to plead his case that they should all be executed.

In the city, they meet Ashley’s cousin, Tasia. Upon seeing how poorly Xan is being treated, she tries to make him feel better. They also encounter a death mage, Lucan, from Dastanar who is seeking an audience with Duke Asher.

The entire entourage, including Lucan and Justav, are finally admitted to see the duke. Xan explains that Justav is a mage and that it’s likely that Dastanar is breaking the treaty. Auggie is skeptical. However, he’s facing attack from a rival duchy and is hesitant to rule out the possibility Xan is right.

Meanwhile, Ashley sees how Tasia is treating Xan and gets jealous. Ashley apologizes for the way she treated him. She covets the power he and his mage friends represent.

Auggie finally decides to take a wait and see attitude. The mages are allowed to live but are forced not to reveal their powers to anyone. The group is rewarded for rescuing Ashley. Dylan is given an important merchant contract. Lainey is pardoned for killing the guardsman. Brant is made a knight.

Xan is made Marshal of the Mages. And given Ashley’s hand in marriage. He’s stunned.

As a newly minted officer for Duke Asher, Xan sets about trying to save the city from an overpowering force with a lot more mages than he has. He first sets up an ambush that causes many of the enemy nobles to be injured. Because of those injuries, the enemy is forced to use their mages for healing, revealing their location. Brant leads a small team and assassinates all but six of the enemy mages.

Justav, however, is still in the city. Two of his mages attack Dylan, Brant, and Lucan. During the fight, Dylan’s magic use is visible, violating the duke’s strict orders, but they survive.

Meanwhile, Justav lures Xan to a deserted part of the city and ambushes him. Justav blocks Xan’s magic use and attacks with a sword. Xan has no chance until suddenly he’s able to access magic. He freezes Justav.

Auggie is worried. Reports will get back to the queen that he is violating the law, but he believes the enemy really did have mages as well. He decides to risk the queen’s wrath but only if each of his mages signs an oath of fealty. Everyone but Xan does.

With the city under siege, Xan is locked in a tower, and Ashley breaks off the engagement. Lainey is still mad at him over the killing. Brant is ticked over Xan winning Ashley’s hand. Dylan is distracted by Mari.

Alone, rejected, depressed, Xan reaches for the only person who has shown him kindness—Tasia. He sends her a note proposing marriage. She’s understandably upset and, of course, refuses and goes back to her duty tending soldiers on the wall.

Xan watches her from his cell. A stone is heading straight for her! She’ll be killed. Wishing with all his might, he tries to stop the rock.

It stops.

Xan not only can control chemical magic but kinetic as well. He soon discovers that he can wield all ten types of magic. With an enemy army fast approaching the breached wall, though, Tasia is still in danger. Xan breaks out and saves her, flying her to safety atop a nearby wall. He kisses her.

Both the enemy and Auggie’s men want him dead, though, so he must flee. He launches himself into the air. An arrow hits him, and he’s in danger of passing out from using too much magic.

As he’s falling, he spots a haystack. Aims for it. The world goes black.

His friends gather with the battle won. They don’t understand what happened with Xan. How could he use all ten powers.

“He’s a wizard,” Lucan says, “and we must kill him.”

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