Alain is a Mage; his power, like that of all his Guild, comes from the key insight that the world and everything in it are unimportant illusion, easily manipulated. When the caravan he is guarding comes under attack from suspiciously over-armed bandits, he finds himself defending his philosophical opposite: Mari, a Mechanic, whose strength as a member of the Mechanic’s guild comes from accepting the world as real and engaging with it. Escaping from the desert wherein they are stranded alone is only the beginning of their adventures.
The Dragons of Dorcastle launches Jack Campbell’s conceptually ambitious and rollicking YA fantasy adventure series, The Pillar of Reality. The truth-hoarding Great Guilds have always been rivals, but now as catastrophe threatens to overtake the world of Dematr, the Mage Alain realizes that his not-always-cooperative ward is the prophesied agent of the world’s salvation.
The Mage-Mechanic dynamic plays out in fun ways; the Zen qualities of Campbell’s Mages mean they’re not simply a different path to getting things done, they’re a philosophical denial that anything can be done at all, coupled with an insistence that anything that could be done wouldn’t matter and a detachment from caring about any of the (illusory and irrelevant) outcomes. This puts Alain at odds with the spunky, determined, and well-armed Mari, and sets up their inevitable challenged romance.