Review – Rotten Magic by Jeffrey Bardwell @twigboat

Book & Author Details:

Rotten Magic by Jeffrey Bardwell
Publication date: August 9th 2017
Genres: Steampunk, Dark Fantasy

Rotten MagicDevin will do anything to win. Even resort to magic.

Devin competes to become the best artificer in the mage phobic Iron Empire. Who needs magic when you can master the art of machinery? The other apprentices envy his genius and skills . . . especially Benson. Every apprentice hones their craft building and fighting in crude prototypes of powered armor. Some add frills, others barbs or horns. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer.

But Devin harbors a secret as he claws his way to the top of the Artificer’s Guild: he’s a mage. These new abilities are thrilling and frightening, and the voices more so. How long can Devin be content wearing a steel dragon mask when the seductive promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?

Experience the novella prequel to the Artifice Mage Saga: a fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.


Although this is described as a novella prequel to the Artifice Mage series, I didn’t find it particularly illuminating  as the start to a series.  And, as it appears that this addition to the series was released after Book 1, I’m not entirely sure that it was intended to be the series starter.

I confess that I found myself confused for much of this book.  There wasn’t much in the way of back story or explanation for the voices or the game or, well, anything.  As a result, it was a slow read and felt longer than 126 pages.

I didn’t particularly connect with any of the characters, and found some of their behaviours and reactions to be somewhat inconsistent.

Sadly, although I can see the promise in the plot line, I’m afraid that the delivery didn’t sell it for me.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.



purchase links

Amazon (Universal Link)

About the author

Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.

The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at:

author links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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