Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Dork Review #3: Small Magics

Call this the post where I pimp one of the books of an author I met at Ad Astra. Of course, it helps that Small Magics by Erik Buchanan is a well crafted story with engaging characters, which makes pimping it so much easier. Please note, that while I've met the author and do like the guy, everything I write below is my opinion and I have accepted no compensation for this review. Not even a free book. I mean, I bought the book and now I'm giving out free advertising. I really should start charging for this. (Just kidding!)

Anyways, on to the review. Standard spoiler warnings apply.

Where to start. How about with the title, Small Magics. It is appropriate, as the main motivator of the story is the theft of small magics from others by an evil bishop and how it impacts upon the life of Thomas, a young man come home from the Academy to see his family. The bishop has stolen the power to influence others with his voice from Thomas' father, and boy does he use it effectively. The only one that can actually stop the bishop is Thomas, as the young man has the ability to hear and see magic, apparently a rare gift because even the other magically gifted in the book can't see or don't realize what they are doing. The gifts appear to be random, as the gift that Thomas has is completely different from his father's. So while the ability to perform magic is hereditary, how it manifests is different. Kind of an interesting take upon hereditary ability.

This brings up an interesting point, and something I'd like to comment about. I like the way the author deals with how magic is "seen". I've put seen in quotes as there is more than one definition I'd like to cover. The obvious "seen" is how Thomas actually perceives magic. The author does a marvelous job of describing how intense it is to actually see the magic in the world, how it all ties together, and how it is different in everyone. Even those who do not actively use or have a gift seem to be touched by the magic of the world. It is a beautiful testament to how everyone is connected by life.

The other "seen" is the prevailing attitude towards magic in the world the author has crafted. Magic is a dirty little secret, and those who understand that they have a gift and aren't using it without knowing are afraid of being branded as witches. One of the arguments Thomas has to make is the difference between magic, which comes from one of this worlds main four gods, and witchcraft which comes from the Banished, this worlds demon/devil equivalent.

And what organization has made it so that no one can tell the difference between the two, and at the same time made it so only one god is ascendant over all the others, why it would be the Church of the High Father, an analogue of the Roman Catholic church at its worst. The bishop as its representative is a vile, putrescent, slimy, arrogant, bubbling piece of filth that should be burned at the stake, and then the ashes collected and launched into space so that no part of him will continue to pollute the planet. So, in other words, a really well done villain. You want to hate this guy, viscerally. Thankfully the book is not all potshots at the church, as there is a noble character that is on his way to becoming a priest who is intelligent and sympathetic.

As for the hero, Thomas, there is very little not to like about him. He's intelligent and determined with a conscience. Even when he has the opportunity to run he refuses, as he not only wants to save his family but also wants to see the bishop defeated. The artful part about all this is that you believe in this when it happens. The character is consistent throughout the book, and his dedication doesn't seem forced or artificial. Also, he isn't a wanton killer, nor are any of the heroes. They stand up against those who would kill or abuse power, which has always been a very powerful image in fiction, for me at least.

Let me finish by saying that I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it so much that I'd recommend it to my friends, family, and random strangers on the street or internet. Pick it up!

Small Magics on Amazon

Small Magics on the Edge website

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