Titan Books. p/b. £7.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins
Mags is a young teenager who has never known anything in his life but the hardship he endures at Master Cole’s mine. His days consist of battling for survival against the cold and the hard labour of mining for gems squeezed into tight tunnels, worked until exhaustion and fed just enough to keep him alive. He longs for freedom, though he doesn’t know where he’d go if he ever got it.
Mags loves learning though; his mealtime lessons are the only thing really keeping him going, so when the opportunity arises for him to join the Collegium he feels like the luckiest boy in the world. Unfortunately for Mags he will soon learn that privilege does not necessarily bring good things. Something evil is out there and Mags is convinced he has Bad Blood. So convinced, in fact, that his search for the truth about his heritage might be the most important thing in his new life.
Foundation is solely focused on Mags’ story, from his terrible upbringing in the mine to his overwhelming introduction to the lie as a Chosen. He is placed into an environment completely alien to him and presented with opportunities so incredible that they take the reader back to the most basic and perhaps fulfilling experience of traditional fantasy: the joy of having an animal companion that speaks into our hero’s mind.
As a protagonist Mags exhibits great maturity, which makes him far more appealing than your average teenage hero. He is honest, has an incredible capacity for understanding and forgiveness, and has an innocent way of looking at the world that endears him to the reader. Throughout the story Mags’ reflections, desires and learning are portrayed in great detail, which whilst bringing the reader closely into the story does mean the book has a very slow pace.
Foundation is the first in a four part series and it very much feels like a first part. The reader gets the sense that a larger story is taking shape in the background and there will be more to come. Unfortunately in this book there is a lot of exposition and even more of a focus on Mags’ internal experiences. Tension created by external forces and dramatic action is lacking and book two will need to deliver more to retain readers.