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The Magical Brothers by George Laws

The adventures of two fine young men trying to make it in the big city. 

Max and Mick are two brothers who’ve just moved away from home. In the city for the first time, they try to make it big while dealing with rent, local criminals, work, the authorities, their own propensity for getting into trouble, and each other. Also, they’re mages.

A novel, no longer online

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Listed: Aug 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

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A quandary

By Chris Poirier, editor

Sep 4, 2008: I want to rave about The Magical Brothers. The writing is nice, easy to read, occassionally funny; the world is interesting, with a nicely messy-feeling system of magic. If it had an RSS feed, I’d probably add it to my reader. And yet, somehow, I’m feeling ambivalent.

The story follows two brothers, Mick and Max, who’ve just moved into their first apartment in the big city, fresh from their parents’ place in the sticks. The city is a mecca for magic users, full of magic-dealing businesses and magic-wielding gangs, built around a university of magic. It’s New York, but with people who can throw fireballs and control gravity, with abattoirs that butcher chimeras, as well as pigs and goats; dirty, run-down, and dangeous, yet still wondrous and delightful. The brothers have come, it would appear, in search of adventure and greater magical power. But they’ll need to find and hold down jobs, first. Even wizards have to pay the rent.

The magic is well-integrated into the world, not just the occasional spell. People use it to keep their privacy, and to invade that of others. They use it to defend themselves, and to attack others. They use it to make their lives easier, and to entertain themselves. It is pervasive in their technology.

Perhaps, in a way, that is where my ambivalence comes in. The magic is interesting, but, ultimately, the story (thus far, anyway) is about mundanity—looking for a job, finding a job, meeting coworkers, flirting wth girls, dealing with a landlady, sleeping, showering. There’s a fight or two but, otherwise, nothing much happens.

The characters seem nice enough, but aren’t all that compelling. To be honest, I can’t really tell Mick and Max apart. Max has a job, Mick can’t seem to find one. And Mick is very well-endowed (or so we are repeatedly told). But, in scene, I can’t tell them apart. They sound alike, and, unfortunately, on paper, their names are too similar for me to keep track of who’s doing what, or to instantly tell which of them is in any particular scene. I tell them apart by a checklist of attributes, in other words—not by their personalities, not by the things they might say or generally do.

That all said, I think The Magical Brothers would make a successful book—if I picked up a complete copy in a store, I’d probably read it through, and enjoy doing so. It’s well-written and easy-to-read. Fun, even. I definitely think you should check it out. I just hope that, sometime soon, it will find itself a compelling reason for us all to continue reading.

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