Great and lovable characters, fantastic world building and written well, Dobing has excelled in combining multiple mythologies with a little bit of science, creating a unique and intriguing world for urban fantasy lovers everywhere. Message Bearer is an action packed, epic, fantasy adventure.
The story centers around a young man called Seb, who has unfortunately wound up living on the streets. He doesn’t seem to mind this too much though, however, he has noticed that he is drawn to certain places and for some reason he favours the nighttime hours over the day (at first I thought he was a vampire, haha, i was wrong. – C.L).
Seb is settling down for the night (or early morning in his case) near an abandoned church, when he suddenly hears a terrified scream. Moments later an injured woman appears running straight for him, followed by a nightmarish creature. The woman begs Seb for help whilst the creature (aka Clementine) tries to kill them. Unfortunately for Seb, the woman gives him a hidden mental message that only he can open, and from this moment on-wards, Seb is thrown headfirst into an ancient world of magic and daemons (aka the Sheol).
Message Bearer will introduce you to a number of unique terms including; The Aware, The Unaware, The Weave, The Consensus and many more (don’t panic you won’t get lost, Dobing explains everything extremely well -C.L). Without giving away too many spoilers (I hope -C.L.) here’s a brief history/backstory for Message Bearer; there was a magical war which split the ancient magic world into shards, Earth being the furthest away shard and virtually untouched by magic. A number of individuals retreated to Earth, and their magic was limited by being bound to The Consensus. The Consensus is the reality perceived by humankind, so basically our reality and our world. Mages therefore struggle to manipulate reality when a) there are observers (humans around), and b) during the day (as it’s harder to hide things in broad daylight), hence the reason why Seb is drawn to the nighttime. However not everyone agrees and not everyone is on the same side, for some unknown reason, more Sheol than before are slipping through the cracks in the shards, causing problems for mages and humans alike.
That’s enough of the background and basic premise, now onto the characters…
The characters are multi-dimensional and realistic, often changing their mind and questioning their decisions. Dobing has created a nice mixture of characters, and as much as there are bad guys and good guys, the good guys are far from perfect…
- You have The Magister, who is the head of an elite organization of mages (aka Skelwith). Unless you come from a prestigious background you are outcast and left to fend for yourself. The only problem with this is that most of the outcast mages end up unable to understand their power or reality and therefore end up insane.
- The Brotherhood, half daemon half human soldiers who protect the mages because of an ancient oath. However there is a lot of tension and disagreement surrounding this oath, and the mages tend to be unfair and uncooperative.
- Cade, the third sword of the Brotherhood and general good guy. Cade rescues Seb, recognizing that he is different, and brings him to Skelwith.
- Caleb an older mage, who like Seb, doesn’t come from a prestigious background and so is considered an outcast, albeit a useful one. Caleb trains Seb to use his magic, but also tries to help Seb become useful enough to stay at Skelwith too.
- Cain, a giant and powerful mage, second to the Magister.
- Marek an evil mage, again he doesn’t come from a prestigious background and he opposes The Magister. Marek deals with the sheol in order to achieve his goals.
- Sylph, one of Marek’s mages, a young woman who is charged with retrieving information, shortly after she begins to question Marek’s plans.
At the end of the book a couple of characters happen to come together through circumstance. All I will say is, it will be interesting to see how Dobing develops them and where he plans to take them next.
The different mythologies had me completely hooked, I felt a Norse mythology vibe when reading Message Bearer, due to the mention of Woden. However, there are many different mythologies incorporated into this story and Dobing has woven them together perfectly from a unique and interesting perspective. The magic platform is also brilliant, there is a lot of depth and detail here, and it is very believable. I liked the fact that the mages were limited by reality and The Consensus, it posed a refreshing obstacle for the characters to overcome.
Another nice inclusion was the fact that the first part of Message Bearer is set in Blackpool, with references to The Vic, The Promenade and Stanley Park. So anyone who has been to, or lives in Blackpool or lives nearby, this should definitely interest you. There is also a brief mention of Carlisle and the Lake District. However, even though this novel is set in the UK, you are not required to know these locations in order to enjoy the story or imagine the locations. Dobing has made it easy to imagine the locations mentioned within his novel.
I really enjoyed Message Bearer and I’ll be adding the next book in the series (when it’s out) to my reading pile (mountain). I’d recommend this novel to anyone who wants an action-packed adventure, loves urban fantasy, and/or is interested in mythologies. This is definitely one to try, it is worth every penny and more, all ninety-nine of them!
From The Current Reviews:
The Good: , ‘Very well written, with depth, great plot and character development’, ‘This was a good book. The story kept me interested and was a good mix of real science and fantasy. Great world building.’, ‘Very readable writing with few editing errors. Expect lots of violence and gore. No romance‘, ‘the magic system is quite original and interesting‘, ‘The most impressive thing about this book is the rich mythology‘, ‘all really well described, not too long or too short and it was exciting and very visual‘, ‘After reading the first 15 or so pages, this book has had me hooked‘, ‘a compelling novel well worth investing the time in‘, ‘Loved the twists and turns and very interesting storyline‘, ‘fantastic pace, great character names‘, ‘full of imagination and a compelling story line‘, ‘Grim, unforgiving and intense. These are three words that describe this book best as far as I’m concerned. The vivid descriptions kept me awake all night, but the hope in the characters reminded me that dawn would never be too far away. A good read‘, ‘The first chapter draws you in with action and mystery, and its a wild ride from there. Great world building.’, ‘Fast paced, excellent sub plots and great ending.’
The Bad: ‘Possibly too much action, because I was getting a bit bored of fight scenes and was glad of the break when magic training started.‘
The Darn Right Ugly: ‘I don’t think the book was even given a basic spell check. It’s a bit distracting.‘ (It pains me to put this here but I have to in order to be completely honest. There are maybe five typos towards the end of the novel but in my opinion this doesn’t detract from the story. Message Bearer does not deserve this comment as 99.9999% is well-written and error free -C.L.)
The Unicorns: ‘This is a five star book easily‘, ‘If you are looking for an action packed book that is high fantasy, and has a good load of paranormal excitement thrown in then give this book a shot, because chances are you will not regret reading this one. That is how thrilling this book is. Do not miss out!‘, ‘Thoroughly enjoyed this book and can honestly say the only disappointment I had was reaching the last page‘.
Release date: 16th November 2015
Age Range: 13+
Contains: Some descriptions of violence
Genre(s): Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Thriller & Mystery
About The Book: ‘You were drawn. I can see it. You are Latent.’
For reasons unknown, Seb is constantly drawn to random places without meaning, following an instinct he doesn’t understand.
One night that instinct lands him in trouble when he encounters Sarah, a young woman hunted by a fiend that can only be described as the stuff of nightmares. Against his better judgement Seb attempts to intervene, only to nearly get himself killed in the process. Before she passes, Sarah transfers something to him, an arcane knowledge that gets buried deep into his subconscious.
Rescued by the Brotherhood warrior Cade, Seb’s life takes on an unexpected turn when he is told he is a Latent, able to manipulate the very energies of reality to his own devices. He is brought into a world within our own where the Magistry and its allies engage with the demonic Sheol in a timeless conflict that has traversed entire universes.
A world where he, and he alone, carries the message that could change the course of the conflict forever.
UK Amazon Kindle Rating: (4.9 Stars)
Goodreads Rating: (4.0 Stars)
His first novel, Message Bearer, is the first in his urban fantasy series, The Auran Chronicles, the sequel to which is due out in the first half of 2016.
As well as Message Bearer, Mike has also produced several short stories over a period of many years, some of which were fortunate enough to be selected for publication. Sadly, a bad experience with a faulty hard drive and an evil usb stick sent many of these to digital oblivion, putting him off writing for a prolonged period.
Those stories that could be salvaged, as well as more recent efforts can be found on Amazon, with Mirror Man being a particular favourite.
As well as writing Mike is also fond of the odd gaming session on the Xbox One, where people half his age use him for target practice on a regular basis.
Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future. The ‘My Thoughts’ Section is an honest review from Caitlin Lynagh.