June 5th, 2012

Books

Book Report: Fun Fantasy/Adventure

I didn't get that nap yesterday, but I did spend the late afternoon lying on the sofa and catching up on the end of the season of A Game of Thrones. I finally got around to reading the books because of the first season of the series, but now after having read the books, I like the series less. The first season was a fairly faithful adaptation, but they're making some pretty senseless changes to the plot in the second season. They seem to be condensing things by making them even more complicated in places, and because I have book knowledge, the changes bug me more.

But I finally transitioned into reading something else. I had the new KE Mills Rogue Agent book, so I re-read the last one and then delved into the new one. And now I have to wait for the next one. Bummer. I really love this series because it has all the elements I like in a book and in the (mostly) right proportions. It can be really funny in a screwball comedy kind of way at times, but then it goes really psychologically dark. The hero is a true good guy. There's a fun cast of "found family" characters, and there's a hint of romance. The gist of the series is that Gerald, Our Hero, thinks he's just a third-rate wizard good only for bureaucracy, but it turns out that it's just that the aptitude tests aren't capable of measuring what he is, and he goes through some experiences that really bring out his true powers. That makes him the ideal candidate to become a kind of magical secret agent. He has to keep acting the third-rate wizard just getting by as his cover while he goes on all kinds of secret missions, often with the help of his friends, who include his best friend, a too-brilliant-for-his-own-good experimental wizard; his friend's younger sister, who's equally brilliant, beautiful and daring and extremely frustrated that being female keeps her from really getting to use her abilities; a talking bird who's actually an ancient enchanted sorceress queen who has more or less adopted Gerald; and an unconventional princess from another country who just wants to live a normal life. It's all in a sort of Victorian/Edwardian magical steampunk setting -- alternate world, but with that kind of society.

In the newest book, Wizard Undercover, there's a possibility of nefarious doings at a royal wedding that will unite the heirs of two squabbling kingdoms, so they have to use the princess's position to get Gerald in place. He has to pose as the princess's personal secretary as she attends the wedding festivities, and since a princess wouldn't travel alone with a man, the sister gets to go along as a lady's maid. Things are complicated by the fact that Gerald is rather madly in love with his best friend's sister, but his friend has warned him away because his job is so dangerous, and she's rather crazy about Gerald but irked that he hasn't made a move, and now they're stuck together in close quarters. There's a touch of Downton Abbey flavor, as our main characters are put into those servant cover roles and have to navigate that kind of society amid all the preparations for a royal wedding. It's all great fun until it gets deadly serious.

Now I can't wait for the next one. More like that, please! This is the kind of fantasy I want to read, and it's way too rare.