I tried to go straight to Master and it was a bit too hard. Maybe on my next playthrough.
I'm avoiding some of the quest lines with my character as well. I'm basically doing the civil war and main story line with this guy.
Are you doing stealth/thieving with your mage or just straight mage? Trying to picture what my next couple characters will look like. Besides barbarian, thief, mage, what else is left? Dual wield guy?