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Aoife

Witty Little Knitter

I read fantasy, crime, true crime, lgbt-romance and books written by my favourite comedians. List not necessarily complete.
Sometimes I write for Bibliodaze

Currently reading

Stephen and Matilda
Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262 pages
Krieg und Frieden
Michael Grusemann, Leo Tolstoy
Progress: 579/1024 pages
Ten Little Wizards: A Lord Darcy Novel - Michael Kurland My first reaction on reading the blurb of this book was 'OMG a detective-story set in an alternate reality where magic exists! why haven't I heard of this sooner?' Once I started reading it was more a 'Yeah I wish I had discovered these earlier but mainly because a few years ago I wasn't overthinking (the logic behind) fantasy-novels that much and was overall less cynic about humanity.'It's really sad but I simply have massive trouble buying the world the Lord Darcy-stories are set in. So the main point of it (apart from the existing magic) is that Richar Lionheart stayed longer on the throne, wasn't succeded by his evil brother John but by his nephew Arthur who was so good and noble and so everything a man can wish for in a king that people started confusing him with the mythological King Arthur. So far so good.Now when I started reading Ten Litle Wizards my first impression was that the book would have to be set during/some time after Arthur's reign, so I was really surprised when I learned that it's set in the 1980s. It simply doesn't feel like that. It feels like your typical pseudo-mediaeval fantasy-setting. The technology is far from what we had in the 80s. There are trains, but they seem to be rather unreliable, there is something similar to telegraphy but it doesn't work over water and generally seems to fail frequently so that ye olde medieval horse-messengers are preferred. Now the explanation for the lack of any advanced technology is that it's a world where "the science of magic has replaced the magic of science." Yeah...when in doubt just say 'It is like this because MAGIC'. Don't get me wrong, I'd accept if magic would slow down science a bit...why spend ages trying to figure out how to make humans fly if wizards can use a spell? But that's the point: Wizards can use a spell. Magic is a rare talent. The majority of humanity won't be able to do that (or be able to perform forensic investigations, or keep their food from going off without buying an expensive spell for a storage-box)...but still nobody seems to have any ambition to make humanity less dependent on magic...this is me being not really convinced.The other thing that gave me the whole middle-age-feeling was politics. We're in the 20th century and still have a feudal system and (as I got it) an absolute monarch. Of course that is not bad, cause you know, the monarch is nice or a Plantagenet, which seems to be a synonym. Because the whole Planatgenet line of succession is full of great monarchs, who knew what was the right think to do, who didn't went insane, who treated their subjects with great respect and probaly they could all read at night cause the sun was shining out of their arse. I am sorry...blame George Martin but I don't buy about 800 years peaceful reign of one family...it doesn't even seem that for good measure they had at least a few who were just average rulers...no the author shoves it into our face that every single one was great. This is me being even less convinced.The church plays only a minor role (at least in this novel) but for the popes it seems to be the same...no Borgias, no orgies in the Vatican, no abuse of power and therefore of course also nobody like Martin Luther...just like all these nice monarchs stopped somebody like Oliver Cromwell ever gaining any influence. That's just very much taking the easy solution.I now I might be at least partially unfair because I guess you can counter lots of my critizism with 'Duh, well that's 70s/80s fantasy, and that was just very different from Martin, Barclay and whoever else is writing today.' Which is right...and usually when I read older fantasy I can make admissions for everything being a bit more brightly-coloured and fluffy back then, or rather I simply do it I don't need to force it and constantly tell myself that 30 years ago things were differently. I'm just too engrossed in the story to care.Which brings me to that. The detective-story is well a bit meh. The murderer was easy to figure out (in the 'I have read enough mysteries, I know what to look for, you can't fool me'-way), there were too many characters, Lord Darcy didn't make much of an impression on me and a reduced number of plot-threads defenitely wouldn't have hurt. I did like all the shout-outs to other famous detectives but even those seemed occasionally a bit to forced in that look-at-me-I'm-oh-so-clever way.Despite all that I am a bit tempted to give one of the originaly Lord Darcy short-stories a try, after all Ten Little Wizards is novel-length (well...180 pages) and not written by the original author, so it is possible that the originaly mysteries are engrossing enough for me to gloss over my issues with the world-building...but getting my hands on one isn't exactly high on my priorities-list.