Review: Magebane by Lee Arthur Chane

Magebane-Actual-Cover-smIn Magebane, the debut novel from Lee Arthur Chane, a tiny magical kingdom is locked off from the rest of the world by a centuries-old impenetrable wall of magic. The mages and their people believe everything outside the barrier is pure wilderness, and for those living outside it, magic has been reduced to myths and legend. As a young aeronaut flies over the barrier from the outside, and parties scheme to bring down the barrier from the inside, both ways of life cannot remain unchanged.

In a meeting of steampunk and magic, Magebane is more about the plots and machinations of the people involved than the whiz-bang-neato potential of the world elements. This is not a bad thing – the steampunk elements are basic, and while the basics of magic are cool, they’re not enough to carry the story. The characters, however, are.

The slowly-unfolding plot gradually reveals layers of intrigue, manipulation, and hidden agendas from the mage side of the world. Various parties are working to bring down the barrier – each for their own diverging purposes – and all are perfectly fine with a healthy dosing of murder, torture, and/or mass slaughter to get there.

In fact, for a story of violence and massive political upheaval, the pacing is almost leisurely. It didn’t drag, just took its time with descriptions and worldbuilding to make sure that each action was in complete, full context to bring the reader along with all possible implications.


So, what’s inside:

  • Schemes upon schemes tied up in other schemes, with very few people to be taken at face value

  • Complex evil characters who are absolutely convinced they’re doing the right thing and that this death/destruction/torture/etc will all be worth it for a higher cause.

  • Steampunk technology, and magic that at times acts suspiciously steampunk-like (swap a few cogs and coals for magic, and leave the rest intact). Both of them get lush descriptions and beautiful execution.

  • A complex social and political system, built on top of a complex magic system, all of which make perfect sense together. The worldbuilding is thorough and well done.


What’s not inside:

  • A fast-paced page turner. This book takes its time, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But if you want a political thriller, this isn’t the speedy read you’re looking for.

  • An unexpected ending. But the path to get to the expected ending is a fun enough read that it doesn’t really matter.

  • A kick-in-the-pants beginning. Chane does a lot of worldbuilding up front, which is a bit slow in the beginning of the book. Some of it, in my opinion, could have waited until a bit later.


TL/DR: A pretty book with that takes its time as evil characters unfold their plans and subterfuge, less about the meeting of steampunk and magic and more about what nasty people with power are scheming to do about it.

488 pages

The Science Fiction of Cyberpunk Has Become Science Fact

Two years ago, when I sat down to start writing on my first novel, THE CESTUS CONCERN, I had it in my head that I was going to be writing a futuristic cyberpunk novel loaded with science fiction. After all, the book was populated with high tech bionic men with abilities far beyond the norm, cybernetic rewiring of brains, and computer controlled minds.

Doing research over the past few months for my second novel, The Cestus Contract, I realized that most of what I had assumed was science fiction had become science fact. Now that book two is out, I’m not quite as sure how far off the science really is…and the realization has blown me away.

The lead character in my Weir Codex series is one Malcolm Weir. A former US Army Ranger, Mal wakes up to find his arms replaced with cybernetic weapons and his mind sharing space with a computer implanted into the base of his skull. Other characters are similarly enhanced — cyborgs with no hearts, men merged into giant robotic suits, and men and women being controlled remotely by computers.

Surely, none of these things are possible in today’s world? Right? That’s what I thought…and boy was I wrong. Let’s take a look at some of what is taking place in the real world of cyberpunk that now exists just outside your window.

Craig Lewis, a 55 year old man, had a continuous flow pump surgically implanted into his body to replace a damaged heart. The device allowed blood to flow through his system without a pulse.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a an artificial “smart” skin that allows machines to mimic the sense of touch. The level of sensitivity of the skin is similar to that of a human’s fingertip. Not only is the skin a huge leap forward for robotics and human-robotic interfacing, but also for prosthetic limbs.

Right now, the US Army is testing what they can an antropomorphic exoskeleton, the HULC, that will enable its wearer to move faster than normal and increase their strength.

The field of bionics and robotic prosthetics has exploded over the past few years. There are now powered bionic appendages that are controlled by thought. Mind controlled bionic legs that possess a full range of motion, bionic hands that feel, and bionic eyes that restore partial sight to the blind.

Robotics is coming along just as fast, with the military testing humanoid robots, robotic “mules” developed to carry equipment and supplies into difficult areas for troops, gun-wielding telepresence battledroids, bird drones, and even a flying robotic “transformer” that will potentially replace manned choppers for troop transportation and resupply missions.

Beyond robots are things like the Kuratas , a Japanese-built mecha prototype. That’s right, I said the Japanese have built a working mech. The thing is about 13 feet tall, is controlled by a pilot who rides in its chest, and can be mounted with weapons. Even more insane is that fact that the Kuratas can be ordered online…

Finally, in the scariest piece of news, a researcher at the University of Washington has performed what is believed to be the first non-invasive human-to-human brain interface. The researcher was able to hook-up and crontrol his subject’s hand via the Internet. Telepresence via robots is one thing, but being able to control a human’s actions remotely is mind-blowing. The thought of what could be done with this particular technology is both terrifying and, now that I have children who must constantly be reminded to do their chores, intriguing.

With each passing day, Cyberpunk becomes less about the world of “what might be” and more about the world outside our windows.

To read more about the exciting cyberpunk adventures of Malcolm Weir, check out the first two novels in the Weir Codex: The Cestus Concern and The Cestus ContractAvailable NOW on Amazon.

Mat Nastos is a TV, Film, comic book, science fiction, fantasy & cyberpunk writer/director, known best for bad horror movies about giant scorpions, killer pigs & dinosaurs in the sewers. His work has been published by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Warp Graphics, Playboy and Highlights for Kids, and has been seen everywhere from the SyFy Channel to Cinemax to the Disney Channel. He is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling Science Fiction Action novel, The Cestus Concern.

You can stay up to date with his latest work by going to his website at