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Book review: The Wizard of London - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
January 12th, 2006
07:31 pm


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Book review: The Wizard of London
Today's book review is The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey.

This book is the latest in the Elemental Masters series.  Unlike the last couple of books in the series, it is not a retelling of a familiar fairy tale (or at the very least, not familiar to me).  I find Lackey's version of Victorian England compelling and enjoyable to visit (while I suspect that a true scholar would be gnashing his teeth over details that she gets wrong, I know little enough about the period that it works for me), and she once again demonstrates her ability to make me care surprisingly deeply about characters that, objectively, seem flimsy and cliché.  The broad outline of the plot is unsurprising, but the details are just inventive enough that for the most part, it is comfortable rather than trite.  The greatest problem I have is in the pacing of the story.  The first two thirds or so of the book proceed slowly, with not a whole lot really happening, and then there's this moment where it seems that Misty suddenly says "wait a minute, this is a standalone novel, not the first book of a trilogy!  I only have 100 pages to bring this story to a conclusion! eep!".  The sudden shift from a bucolic, nearly boring story to fast and furious action and Big Portentious Events leaves this reader's head spinning.  It's compounded by the fact that that the shift in pacing happens at the same time as the villain, who was plenty nasty but chillingly believable, gets a Big Idea and pursues it very quickly and aggressively, in contrast to the character she'd been given.

I like the way Lackey writes.  This book started out to be one of her better efforts, and then had a not so good ending (by page count) or middle and ending (by plot content) stuck on.  I still enjoyed it, but I don't think I can give it more than a 7 out of 10.

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[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
she once again demonstrates her ability to make me care surprisingly deeply about characters that, objectively, seem flimsy and cliché.

Pretty much exactly the reaction I had too. And like you, I wish the last third(ish) had been up to the first bits.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC)
It's a reworking of Andersen's "Snow Queen." I had to reread it to see the similarities, since my familiarity with that one mostly comes from Joan Vinge's SFnal version.

Not one of her best efforts, though I like that series. Readable enough that I don't regret the time spent.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
It's a reworking of Andersen's "Snow Queen."

Note, I did include a disclaimer in my writeup. I'm not familiar with the Andersen story -- the name is familiar but I haven't read it -- though perhaps the world in general would call it "familiar". (I don't see any connection between the Vinge and this.)

BTW, do I know you? I don't mind people I don't know wandering by my LJ -- far from it! -- but I'm curious how you got here.
[User Picture]
Date:January 15th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry for not mentioning how I arrived -- I don't believe we know each other, though I'm on the GT-PFRC mailing list (Elizabeth Bonney) and that's how I got here.

The original story's kinda lame, IMO, but you can find it easily on the web, if you decide you really want to know more about Andersen stories that haven't been bowdlerized into Disney movies. To summarize: Kai (boy) and Gerda (girl) are friends, but then Kai's heart is frozen by the Snow Queen, and he skips town to live in the ice castle. Gerda loves him and goes after him, and after adventures in which all parties praise her purity of heart and determination, she finds him, melts his heart and brings him back home. I'm a bit surprised it hasn't been made into a Disney movie, as the original really does have loads of talking animals as well as room for torch songs about the power of friendship.
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