People that know me know my travel schedule is very demanding. I fly back and forth to Asia far too often. One thing my schedule give me is time to read and I thought I would use my site to occasionally post reviews of what I have read recently. For my blog, I will only post about things I liked. I want to give recommendations of things to try with the idea that the person reading it might buy the book right before jumping on a plane for a trip. So I will provide links to the books, but Kindle versions only as I am imagining you buying the booking online in the airport right before you board.
I decided to start with two books by Ferrett Steinmetz, the first two books in his ‘Mancer series. I chose them for a few reasons. They are good and they are entertaining and certainly will help a flight go faster. My daughter Rachel loved them so much that she wrote her first ever fan letter to Ferrett. Finally, I actually know Ferrett personally. Not really as close friends or anything, but someone I have met a couple of times in real life and who I have followed his online writing via Magic the Gathering editing and articles, web comic and blog for years. He was someone that I always thought would end up being a good fiction writer and he certainly deserves a boost.
Ferrett has created a very interesting world where people who are obsessed with something can, in the right circumstances, harness their obsession to break the laws of reality and use magic. People can be obsessed with many things, and usually the obsession makes the characters loners in some ways. They certainly need to hide their magic as it is illegal. Magic is dangerous for two reasons – the first is that there always is a negative consequence to using magic call The Flux. The second is that powerful enough magic, especially when more than one person is doing it, can tear reality and open a hole to a malevolent dimension. Europe was destroyed because of reality being torn there. The government actively hunts and stops people who use magic.
The main character is Paul Tsabo, an insurance adjuster that can harness the power of bureaucracy to perform his magic (I am sure you can see why an accountant like me would like that). A personal tragedy caused by an improper use of a powerful drug called Flex (distilled magic that can be used by anyone but you cannot escape the consequences) forces him to be much more aggressive in using his magic.
The two books so far have an interesting cast of characters and they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexual preferences. Certainly no stereotypical backgrounds here.
Flex 5/5 (book 1)
I’m not so into video games as one of the sub-themes in the work requires and I really did not feel the gel between the main male and female character, the reasons for friendship really were too flimsy for me, but the story and the characters were well done. The writing also was quite developed and it had a good and enjoyable rhythm. It was hard to put down once it got going.
The magic system fits somewhat together but does not quite click for me. It needs a little more fleshing out and the “flux” doesn’t seem really proportionate to the magic being used at times. I also wonder that considering the flex that the main character is able to make – magic with no consequences – why he was not able to get better help. That is the problem with any magic system, though. It is magic and logic just breaks down at a certain point.
The book was very entertaining and I am comfortable with a “five star” rating as I think that it really does deserve to be read by more people. I rarely give books a 5 star rating, but this one was fresh and interesting and a good read.
The Flux 4/5 (book 2)
I enjoyed the book, but did not think it was quite as good as Flex. I really thought the scenes in the Institute dragged on too long and then were wrapped up too abruptly in the end. The ending almost felt like it was written differently than the middle section of the book, felt like the book maybe was a little too short or something and was padded or edited differently in the middle.
The story itself did move along OK, with several set piece fights and confrontations. We learn more about the world the stories are set in and some more information on what happened to Europe and why it happened. Really not much change in the main characters compared to what was happening at the end of Flex. I did not note any real growth or change in them which was a little disappointing. Even so, I liked the ending and I am looking forward to book three which should be out soon.