Book info

Her Majesty's Wizard (1986)

Her Majesty's Wizard (1986)
Rating
3.9 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0345274563 (ISBN13: 9780345274564)
languge
English
genre
publisher
ballantine del rey
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Her Majesty's Wizard (1986)
Her Majesty's Wizard (1986)

About book: Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.There has been a subgenre of light fantasy as long as there has been fantasy. The novels in this subgenre have an air of gentle humour and some elements of parody, though the comedy is not usually so broad as in the currently more fashionable novels of Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Craig Shaw Gardner. In my opinion, the master of such fantasy, generally written by Americans, was L. Sprague de Camp; more recent books of this type include Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom series, the dragon books of Gordon R. Dickson and Piers Anthony's Xanth series.Her Majesty's Wizard is particularly reminiscent of Dickson's The Dragon and His George with a dash of Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger. It tells the story of Matt, a second-rate graduate student at an American university, who abandons his research to try and decipher a fragment of parchment which has accidentally come into his possession. As he finally cracks its peculiar linguistic structure, he finds himself magically transported into a world where the recital of verse acts as a magic spell.This is a pretty typical opening for this kind of novel. Generally, the novel does not stray far from the paradigm, but where Stasheff differs from every other fantasy writer I have ever read is in the way he takes the Catholicism of a medieval setting seriously. In some ways he is not quite successful in this - the ease with which the prayer of a churchman affects events causes some problems in the plot - but it makes the mindset of his characters a lot closer to those in the ultimate source material of a fantasy novel, the medieval romances about Arthur, Charlemagne and so on. He is able to avoid the embarrassment about religious issues which makes so much fantasy rather coy on the subject; it is really unusual to see religion given something of the place it had in the medieval mindset. I particularly liked the way that the Catholic sacrament of confession was given such a strong and influential role, as it maybe should be in works based around a society in which every important person would have their own confessor.

I ran across this a few days ago in a used bookstore and remembered it from my young adulthood, so I bought and re-read it. It's a fun little story about a graduate student from our world who gets pulled into a parallel universe where he has the Gift of magic, which in that world is shaped by poetry, and where Good and Evil are more obviously active than in our world. I say obviously, because I absolutely believe Good and Evil are real and active here and now but in that world, there's no way to misunderstand what is responsible for things and so no way to avoid making a personal choice for Right or Wrong.I really liked this earlier in life, but was less impressed now. The theories seemed shallowly handled and glossed over. The hero was very quick to come to terms with the rules of his new situation, and even though the dangers of magic were brought up, there never seemed to be any danger or negative consequences from his use of it. It's a quick, entertaining read that raises some good questions, but doesn't go very deeply into the process of the characters finding the answers.
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Reviews
Lauren Eli
So far the book is intriguing and has piqued my interest enough to continue. My only criticism is that it seems so rushed. The description of the places, especially in the beginning, when they are being compared to historical places just seems to spurt out in a jumbled rushed mess. Its as though Stasheff was running and out of breath trying to speak and deliver the lines as quickly and with as much detail as possible. I do admit a bias when it comes to description of places, I love details about the worlds characters are part of because it helps me to fully acclimate to the book. Aside from that first feeling of being rushed through information, the book is exciting and fun. The main character seems dynamic and more importantly realistic enough that I find myself inclined to want to shout out suggestions. Reading this book is like watching a movie where you can't help but feeling as though you should tell the characters what decisions to make or what plot twists you've discovered, even though they obviously can't hear you. I love that the book had gotten me so involved! I have not finished this book yet but I am looking forward to reading it later :-)
Anahi
Adventure, magic, good vs evil, with a touch of romance and sexuality that is still more appropriate for adults than children. I enjoyed the story, but I prefer fantasy that reimagines our world in a new way, preferably better. Most fantasy today keeps in all the gray areas, humans are neither totally good nor evil, we just are. But I can find that by watching the news. A great fantasy adventure has a true hero, that will do good and be strong and true. I felt Matt was flawed enough to be relata
BobA707
Summary: I generally dislike books where the good side is all good and the baddies are all bad (back and white, no shades of grey) - this book does just that deliberately and festoons the whole thing with religious claptrap. If that isn't bad enough it then adds awful rhyming rubbish as the basis of its magic system. Having said all that, the characters are interesting, the plot moves along nicely and the writing is pretty good.Plotline: Plot is pretty good, although mostly predictable, but a few interesting twists keep it in focus.Premise: Awful. Really, absolutely nothing to recommend it.Writing: Simple some good descriptionsEnding: climactic but predictable.Pace: Never a dull moment. Ish. I was very very tempted to give up, but mainly due to the awful premise.
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