Ink Mage (A Fire Beneath the Skin), by Victor Gischler

An army is invading the land. Rina Veralin and her parents, the duke and duchess of Klaar, believe their city is safe. This force, however, is cruel and cunning and despite centuries of safety the city falls. Rina, who has received warrior training all her life, manages to escape with the help of her bodyguard and trainer Kork.

Wanting the city returned and also desiring revenge, Rina and Kork seek out an ancient ink mage, a practitioner of magic whose power is from unique tattoos. Near death, the ink mage creates a magical design on Rina giving her tremendous power, the first of several she’ll receive.

There are others with their own unique body art and powers, and at least two are on the side of Rina’s enemies. Now Rina must gather together a small force to take back Klaar, with the hope that her magic will be powerful enough.

Rina is a wonderfully heroic character, and her magical powers turn her into a killing whirlwind as she leads the group to try to take Klaar back. Even so, using magical powers takes a toll on the user, and Gischler allows Rina to be a powerhouse but with some frailties that make it a fun nailbiter to the very end. She’s surrounded by a group which has several who are completely loyal to Rina, and some others that have suspicious motives. This sets up some challenges for the next volume¬†The Tattooed Duchess. This is fun and light reading with a good cast of characters and well-written action.

This first volume of A Fire Beneath the Skin was originally serialized on Amazon, now collected into the first of three books.