Book Review: The High Mage by John-Ross Elliott

book review of the high mage john-ross elliott
the high mage john ross elliot

Title: The High Mage (Mage series #1)

Author: John-Ross Elliott

Publisher: Lulu Publishing

Publication date: March 15, 2021

Genre: Fantasy

One Sentence Summary: Former lovers, both powerful mages, clash in the White House in this short story.


The High Mage is a short, fast-paced story that kicks off what promises to be an interesting series about mages. In this first, a short story, there’s a dangerous plot hidden within the White House and two former lovers bound to meet again. While I’m a bit hazy on what, exactly, this was about as I was confused during the first half, I really enjoyed the second half and the mystery within it. I also liked the magic introduced and thought it was the best part of this story. The writing does leave a lot to be desired, but there are some good pieces that did hold my interest.

Extended Thoughts

I’ll be honest here. I’m not entirely sure what this short story was about, but I believe the general gist is that, from this, the main story of the series is launched. The story opens in the White House, but all is not quite as it seems and there’s a plot afoot. There’s Ellysse, a Grande Mage, projecting herself and pretending to be someone she’s not. There’s a former lover who has been working to draw her out. The animosity between them is great, but it’s the actions of others that sets off the events that I believe are to come in the next books.

The High Mage is a very short read, fast-paced with a lot going on. The writing was extremely rough, so I’m not exactly clear on what was happening, but it seemed like it mostly took place in the White House and some mage apprentices had taken places within it. I found it a little difficult to connect some pieces, so I constantly felt like I was missing something. It was almost as though the idea for the story came tumbling out, but it was a little warped due to the speed with which it came. I had a hard time keeping up.

I did like that the story had to do with former lovers. The first half of the story was confusing and involved the President, though I couldn’t really figure out what was going on and why the story was involving the President. The second half, though, revealed a fascinating plot. At that point the former lovers were drawn together and bits of their past were revealed. The feelings from both of them were both complicated and simple.

Ellysse, a Grande Mage, is at the heart of this story. I’m not clear on why as the first half of the story didn’t exactly make a lot of sense to me, but the second half was revealing. I got the feeling she’s a strong woman, but also with vulnerabilities. Her former lover felt more calculating, but also powerful and smart. The clash between them is short-lived, but it felt as though one fought with emotion and the other with cunning, which was fun to see.

The magic in this story was really awesome. I loved how The High Mage utilized books and flowers as those are two of my favorite things. How it all worked, exactly, wasn’t exactly clear to me, but I loved what did make sense. Carrying books around to do magic felt a little cumbersome to me, but I really liked how the different magics the mages could do corresponded to certain books. I really liked the magic system. Each mage is of a certain type and, while there wasn’t room in this short story to fully explore them, what was there was interesting and tantalizing.

Overall, The High Mage was an interesting story that did hold my interest. While the first half was confusing to me, the second half made up for it. Since this is such a short story, it’s easy to barrel from one to the other and then be left wanting to know what happens next. For me, the magic was the high point. I found it really interesting and wanted to know more about it. The characters were also interesting, though they’re not fleshed out in such a short space so it was difficult to get to know them.

The High Mage is a short, fast-paced story that feels like a good introduction to the series and good launching point for the overall story. I like the idea of former lovers at odds with each other with potentially complicated feelings between them, and the magic was interesting enough to merit closer inspection.

How many cups of tea will you need?

3 cups

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Thank you to John-Ross Elliott for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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