The Forbearing Mage is a fun, fast-paced fantasy adventure that is equal parts clever, entertaining and rich. Norris’s ability to straddle so many literary fences and appeal to such a large audience with his light and inviting tone, among other standout features, is impressive, to say the least. Much like its predecessor, his sophomore outing is as much a comedy as it is a fantasy-adventure novel. His balance between the humorous and the exhilarating is precisely what makes the tone of The Forbearing Mage so charming and unique. Even when the prose is exaggeratedly formal, as is sometimes characteristic of the genre, readers can easily recognize Norris’s tongue in his cheek; we’re in on the joke, and it doesn’t make the book’s plot any less engaging. In fact, it does just the opposite; the moments in the book where tensions do rise become that much more meaningful.
The Forbearing Mage manages to demonstrate what makes any fantasy or adventure story great, all while maintaining a subtle religious undertones that will resonate strongly with core readers. In this way, the story serves as evidence that, when you put everything you have into creating compelling characters with complex relationships, you can make them stand out in any genre, any situation, and in any universe. And, indeed, beneath the clever repartee of Norris’s main cast of characters, there is a deeply satisfying complexity in each character that works to establish rich dynamics between them that manage to be fun, emotional, and incendiary all at the same time. As such, when the book’s most significant plot points arise, they feel gripping and organic — despite the otherwise light-hearted nature of the story. All of this is brought to life on the page by Norris’s playfully elegant prose.
The Forbearing Mage: The Adventures of Jack Wartnose leaves readers craving a third novel, wondering what comes next for its easy-to-love characters.