Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Accidental Sorceror by K.E. Mills

Funny fantasy can be a risky area – for the millions of us who adore Pratchett and find him to be the most delicious thing imaginable, there are (I guess) equal numbers who utterly fail to smile, let alone chuckle, at the inhabitants of the Discworld. On the other hand, there are a number of authors I am quick to dismiss as Pratchett imitators, and who make me look like Queen Victoria on a bad hair day. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I’m wary of funny fantasy as a genre, especially as I take a “wasted” (i.e. unfinished) library book personally.

Which makes it all the more pleasant to report that an author new to me, K.E. Mills, has as far as I’m concerned, cracked it. I liked it from the first page. In fact, although I’d meant to just read the first chapter before getting up on Saturday morning, it was a bit of a shock to find that it was 11am and I was on page 80. I was engrossed. It was noon before I did anything useful.

Gerald the Third Grade Wizard is a hapless creature with a job at the Department of Thaumaturgy as a safety inspector. Called to investigate a staff-making factory for non-compliance with safety regulations, he finds himself facing a situation well beyond his capabilities and, shortly afterwards, the sack. His next stop is New Ottosland, a seriously backward but fertile country entirely surrounded by the desert kingdom of Kallarap, where he takes up the post of Court Wizard to an autocratic monarch who apparently has difficulty keeping his employees. With him is his long-time companion, Reg, a bird of doubtful provenance and pithy turn of phrase. Almost at once Reg is at loggerheads with the Princess Melissande, Prime Minister of New Ottosland and anxiously awaiting a Kallarapi delegation. Gerald’s sympathies on the whole lie with the princess, even if she is a bit bossy, but it’s the king he’ll have to please. Unfortunately, Lional doesn’t like the Kallarapis (he was at school with the Sultan) and he’s a believer in the divine right of kings.

Events progress at a happily farcical pace, but the characters are convincing, and Reg is nicely acid and amusing, no respecter of divine rights of anything. Although I could predict the way things were going with a degree of accuracy, not all turned out quite as expected, with a couple of little touches that really pleased. My only complaint was a serious foul-up in the printing which led to a couple of pages being printed out of sequence – very careless and the publisher should be highly embarrassed.

The Accidental Sorceror is the first of a series, I’m delighted to say. I can happily spend more time in Gerald’s company. Readers of Tom Holt’s fantasies will like these, I think, especially if they’re fans of recent works like The Portable Door. On finishing, I immediately ordered book two, Witches Incorporated from the library.

3 comments:

  1. Oooooooh. This sounds like a lot of fun. You are so right -- comedic fantasy is very hit-or-miss for me. And tastes definitely vary. But this sounds like a riot. I'll have to look for it.

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  2. Worth a try, at any rate, Kiirsten!

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  3. I will try this too! Thanks!

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