I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Almost Adept was a fun, light read and I liked both of the main characters. Eriale has nearly unlimited power but she's still very much a young adult and it shows at times. Kealan on the other hand is a bit older and a veteran of the Grumesh war and it's become his job to lead the remainder of his people to safety after his country was conquered. There's not much his remaining people can do besides flee and hide. His job as a courier helps them tremendously in that regard. He was also the son of the treasurer of Grumesh and has used most of his countries hidden fortune to help smuggle out the families of the warriors and nobles who are hunted mercilessly by the Roodiman's.
I really enjoyed this world. I loved the setting and the people. I liked the conflict between the two countries. Well it wasn't much of a conflict, it was more like a few ex-warrior's trying to hide but it was fun. I also really liked the magic and I'm not normally a fan of "unlimited" types of magic. Normally I just don't care for the kind of magic that you see so often in high fantasy. I prefer a magic system with plenty of checks and balances and while at times I felt the magic just made things way too easy for Eriale, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. When it's done well it can be a lot of fun like with David Edding's The Belgariad. I would have liked to see a little more self sufficiently on Erial's part and was glad when she lost her bag which just made it too easy for her during the first leg of her journey by providing her with an unlimited amount of food and coin so I was glad to see it go. Then she just starts using her magic to steal whatever she needs which in any other book I doubt I would have liked, especially after she herself had been robbed but the people she stole from totally deserved it so I was laughing with glee every single time she stole something. I was also clapping every time she used her magic to get back at someone who had done her or others wrong. I mean what's the point of having nearly unlimited magic if you can't use it to have a bit of fun and revenge?
But the magic wasn't completely "unlimited". It did have it's drawbacks. She couldn't just use it forever without tiring out and there was also the very real danger of becoming a blood mage and I thought the author did an excellent job with the villain Udolen. He was one nasty piece of work and everything I'd expect from an evil mage.
In the story Eriale has to lose her virginity to become an Adept. It's just kind of explained as "a magical thing". I've got my own theories and one of them is it has to do with being comfortable with who you are and with all of your sides, including your sexual one but I don't really know. For the most part it just bugged me a bit. I mean I loved how open and blunt Eriale was about it so that part was actually quite a bit of fun and I enjoy reading about a more open society that just doesn't think sex is some evil taboo. The conversation between Eriale and her parents was priceless and the first time she mentioned it to Kealan had me laughing so hard. So in some ways it was pretty fun but it just didn't make a lot of sense to me to be honest. I mean she already had the power of an adept so why does she have to lose her virginity just to be called an adept? If it's because so she'll be content with all sides of herself that's cool, but what if she didn't like men? What if she just didn't like sex? There's just too many what if's for me and I'm just not really 100% sure why she even had to lose it in the first place. So at times it was kinda weird and at other times it could be fun. Sometimes it just felt like it was getting in the way of the story but all in all it wasn't a huge factor to me to be honest. I still enjoyed the story very much.
Overall I had a really good time reading this one. The authors writing style was peasant and easy to read. The characters were enjoyable and you could relate to them and the storyline was great. I liked Eriale, she was witty, smart, and made some childish mistakes which is understandable but she was also a good person and most importantly a strong person. I loved the fact that she wasn't just some damsel in distress. At times she seemed a bit too happy or optimistic but then I realized that a lot of that was because becoming an Adept was her whole life and she obviously looked up to and admired her father so naturally she would want to make him proud. I really want to talk about the ending and my thoughts on it but I can't without ruining it but I think it was a wise decision on the authors part to end it how she did.
I would definitely recommend this one. I think this was the authors second book and I'm looking forward to reading more by her. I would love it if she revisited this world some day. I'd love to know more about the mage's guild and the different society's as well as see more about court life. Even if it was with different characters I'd just like to spend more time in this world.