There were two reasons why I got and read Magyk, the first book in Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series. The first is that I have a very difficult time resisting anything that is free (and at the time the book was Barnes & Noble’s free Nook book of the week). The second is that there has been a small void since the last of the Harry Potter books came out that can only be temporarily appeased (and it’s still a little early for me to go ahead with my plan to re-read the original seven before the release of the final installment of the movie franchise in July).
Septimus Heap is born to a wizard family and happens to be the seventh son of a seventh son, making him a very magykal being. Unfortunately, Septimus dies shortly after birth leaving the family temporarily devastated. But Silas Heap found a newborn baby girl in the snow on the way back to his family the day of Septimus’ short life and she helps the distraught mother and bewildered boys to heal. Until the day that an Assassin comes to kill their beloved girl who is really the daughter of the late queen, slain ten years earlier on the day of the girl’s birth (and Septimus’ death). The Heaps are not the only ones determined to protect the princess as Darke magyk threatens more than just their family.
Septimus Heap is not Harry Potter but it doesn’t try to be either. The world and magykal hierarchy created by Angie Sage is distinctly separate. The troubles begin when the former ExtraOrdinary Wizard and necromancer, DomDaniel, returns to claim his position and finish off the Queenling. There are only brief glimpses of the political situation in this first novel though based on the way that Sage patiently built and layered this book, I have hope that the whys behind the series’ violent beginnings will be revisited and expanded upon in the later novels.
Sage’s manner of storytelling wanders about rather than focusing solely on the handful of main characters. The deviations, that can be confusing and appear superfluous at first, quickly become one of the most entertaining aspects of the novel as the pieces of the story begin falling into place. The secondary characters are opinionated and it’s nice to hear their side from time to time. And yet, Sage always manages to bring focus back to her central tale.
Sage has two plots at work in this first novel, neither of which is truly resolved, inspiring the reader to seek further answers and more adventures in the remaining novels of her series. Considering the fact that there are still so many questions at the end of the book, Sage does a wonderful job of wrapping up the secondary characters. Without a true epilogue or hint of what exactly awaits the reader in the next book, Sage ends the novel with at least a paragraph for nearly all of the minor characters met along the way from the gatekeeper and his family to a messenger Rat who learned that his wife was right and it really is safer not to get involved with wizards.