Thursday, 16 April 2009

"He Grinned" - or, a Review of Blaze of Glory: Laws of Magic series

I've just read a book called Blaze of Glory, first in a series called "Laws of Magic". It wasn't hyped by anyone to me except ther publishers but I'm afraid I had higher hopes for it than those met - perhaps because it was shortlisted for an award and also because the cover looked halfway cool. OK I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

It's a fantasy book and apparently it involves political intrigue but I'm sorry if the 'intrigue' thing I have to report is not that intriguing, at least not to me. It's written for teens but hey, I constantly read books for much younger age groups and enjoy them wholeheartedly, this one failed to grab me the way those others did. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't fantastic and I wouldn't exactly go round tooting its horn for fantasy awards.

What I really like in a fantasy book is that the situation, the place, the plot, the characters, preferably the whole lot, are captivating. They don't have to be likable - I read the Engineer Trilogy by K. J. Parker recently and the characters are really dislikable but at least you keep reading, even if only to find out how some of them will meet nasty ends.

In this one, I thought that Aubrey Fitzwilliam, the main character was someone I plain just didn't care for. His sidekick, George, is much more likable and I thought it'd be great if george gave Aubrey the boot for once and all, but apparently that wouldn't be a great idea since it's Aubrey who is the powerful magical one.

Aubrey seemed to me fairly bland, a know-it-all and pretty humourless.

But what really got to me was the fact that Aubrey grins.

What, you say?

I kept reading this book and it seemed that in answer to everything or everytime he was looked at or wanted to express something, the author wrote "Aubrey grinned" or "He grinned". For one thing, Aubrey didn't seem like a character whom you'd be particularly happy to be grinning the whole time - he's self-satisfied and ego-filled as it is. Two, the mood of the book didn't exactly lend itself to grinning all the time. And three, constantly writing this phrase started to grate on me as just an annoying stylistic feature - didn't the writer have anything else to write, did the character have no depth or did the writer just get lazy?

I was waiting for the writer to have a jab at Aubrey and write something about a magical spell that had gone wrong where Aubrey had cast a spell which had left him with a constant fatuous smirk on his face that he couldn't wipe off, a pity since he had such an interest in politics, it would really let him down to be the guy with the smirk, maybe he'd only be Treasurer for ten years and never be Prime Minister.

But, never.

A joke like that might've made me at least smile a bit.

No comments: