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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"A Young Man Without Magic" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




Introduction: I was in the mood for a bit of epic fantasy and thought I'd give Lawrence Watt-Evans' Young Man Without Magic a try. Knowing that Watt-Evans has penned a lot of other acclaimed fantasy series, made me have fairly high hopes for this book.

Overview: Anrel Murrau has just arrived in his small town after living within the city and studying to be a simple clerk. Anrel lives within a society where only those that have magical ability can hold any type of ruling class. Although Anrel is the child of two very well known and powerful sorcerers, he has no magical ability himself and therefor his options are very limited.

While at his old childhood village, Anrel meets up with an old time friend, Valin. Valin, is a common born mage with a bit of an idealistic streak to him.

Times within Anrel's old childhood home have changed quite a bit, the local lord is very strict and at times a bit unfair. Valin takes it upon himself to try and call out the local lord for an injustice that has been wronged upon a family within the city. This leads to an unexpected challenge to a duel between Valin and the powerful land lord.

Anrel although uncomfortable with Valin calling out the land lord, goes along to the duel and acts as Valin's second. Valin is unsuccessful in the dual and ends up dead.

Anrel makes an attempt to carry on Valin's name and attempts to spread a bit of Valin's beliefs throughout the city. This results in a major riot and Anrel running from the law.


Analysis: A Young Man Without Magic started off very slowly for myself. It appeared as if Lawrence Watt-Evans' enjoyed rambling on and on about topics that really didn't have any impact on the characters that the readers were introduced to or the plot line. It seemed every time a point was brought up the readers were taken on a long journey to understand one point. This could really get a bit frustrating, as sometimes it was hard to know what might be important for later and what was just added fluff. This is a first of a projected series so the bit of fluff might serve as a bit of an introduction to the series that we are about to read.

The characters and action once the book started really suffered from a small bit of predictability. Those that are veterans to the fantasy world will easily see what is going to come before it really happens. This might be a major turn off for some from reading this series.

As with the characters, the main character, Anrel, is a bit of a know it all. He is supposed to be an impartial person who sees justice from all sides, but at times it really just came across as him being ignorant and a bit as though he felt he was better then everyone else. I personally didn't care for this attitude and a bit of my continuing to read was to see if anything happened to Anrel. I really believe if I felt that strongly about a character then the author had to have done something right with the writing.

Despite the bit of predictability and slow start, something about Watt-Evans' writing kept me reading. I found the whole concept of A Young Man Without Magic a bit reminiscent of Elizabethian England, even though it's a complete fantasy world. There's something of a bit of interest for myself with that type of setting so it started to click. At the half way mark of the book action really seemed to pick up, and the book moved a lot quicker. The one thing that I didn't really care for is that it appears as just when the action and setting start to pick up the book ends.

Although Young Man Without Magic is by far not the greatest epic fantasy ever written, it served its purpose very well. There is plenty of magic and village settings to cure my yearning for an epic fantasy like read, but it really won't be for everyone. The amount of predictability, and the rather obnoxious main character will really be a deterrent to many readers. However, there is something about Watt-Evans' writing that captivated me and I will probably pick up more of the series just to see if anything happens to Anrel.

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