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Old 11-16-2019, 08:05 PM   #2736
taosaur
intelligent posterior
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The Spellmonger books have sunk their hooks in me, for all that I often find the first person protagonist as face-punchable as the self-important nobles he despises. I'm deep in the third one and finding excuses to listen ("Oh, I'll just do a spot of housework. Say, why don't I go for a walk?"). The narrator, John Lee, is a perfect fit in the role of smart-ass wizard. The main appeal in these books is the magic, with battles and world building a close runner up. A lot of the spells and creatures are straight out of Dungeons and Dragons, but a little more grounded - things like magic missile or chain lightning are accomplished by manipulating thermodynamics, not just poof! blam! pow! The magical races are the surviving natives of a world where humanity does not quite belong. I do get the impression there's at least some medieval scholarship behind the more mundane details, too. Mancour isn't as nuts-and-bolts or brick-by-brick as some contemporary fantasy authors, but the mostly short and sweet expository tangents are enough to paint the backdrop without bogging down the pace.

His great weakness, as I mentioned before, is characterization, particularly on those rare occasions a woman enters the narrative. You can tell at times he's patting himself on the back for a "strong female character," but on those occasions his protagonist still sounds more like a butcher describing a fine, maybe even smart, pig. The relationships between men and women and the thoughts and actions ascribed to women are the least realistic element of this story about a wizard fighting hordes of goblins. It will depend on the reader whether that feature is made better or worse by the fact that women so seldom appear.
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